Thursday, July 30, 2015

Relationship Goal: Nurture It

~ Smita Kumar
This is how a relationship works... 
Let's take the example of a plant. You can't just buy a plant, water it once then forget about it. And then keep expecting it to flower and bear fruit and look all pretty and nice... 
It just won't... 
It will wither and die... 
You need to water it everyday. You must give it time, take care of it, give fertilizers, show some sun, protect it from harsh weather. Only then will the plant grow strong, bear flowers & fruits for you and look really healthy & pretty.
If you miss out on any of the above it will suffer and in turn will not be able to give you what you expect from it.  If you leave your own plant and water other random plants outside, they might give you whatever in return depending on what you've given them. But your own plant, the one that was yours, will die a slow, painful death. 
And once its dead you won't be able to bring it to life. If you abandon it and someone else takes it and starts caring for & loving it, then that person will get the rewards and you'll just be sitting empty handed.  
Similarly you can't just get married and forget your spouse. Your spouse is just like that plant you got. You must give him/her your time everyday just as you water the plant daily. From time to time, do things together for each other and that will act like fertilizer to make your bond strong.  Protect your relationship & avoid harsh statements, abuses and insults. Talk and share everything with each other honestly. 
This will prune out any misunderstandings and help you both grow.  Only then will your relationship blossom into a beautiful one. If you miss out on these then your relationship will suffer. Don't expect a lovely relationship if you've never bothered to give it your time and effort. And if you leave your own spouse and go out and have random flings, please don't expect your relationship to last. Sooner or later it will end.  And if you abandon your spouse and someone else comes along in their life, you'll be the one sitting alone with with regret and jealousy.  
So please go and care for your relationship while it's still alive and still yours!!! It will be worth every bit if you sincerely put in the time and effort. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#BookReview: India On My Platter - The 20,000 km Food Journey by Saransh Goila

On the jacket:

Backpacking through the country, young chef Saransh Goila sets off on a culinary trail through India, where in he discovers the various nuances of local cuisine. From rural villages to barren deserts to freezing mountains, he unfolds the flavor of his destination by meeting local villagers or erstwhile royalty, picking up a tip or two to use in his kitchen. Wherever he goes, he makes sure to visit the famous eateries of that place. Through him, the reader can vividly smell the spices and taste the dishes that are described. The recipes given also present ways on using locally found ingredients. From having steaming Murthal ke paranthes to savoring tasty street food in home town Delhi, from cooking on a boat in Varanasi to cooking dishes using a bamboo hollow in Assam, Goila does it all and presents his adventures in a lucid, flowing narrative peppered with humorous anecdotes.


India On My Platter - The 20,000 km Food Journey is chef Saransh Goila's travelogue across the country and it includes some fantastic recipes. Having seen Goila cook up storms in the kitchen, on tv shows, I already expected this book to be a smasher. Adding to the fact that he seems to a simple, earthy guy I was sure to expect some very recipes of the land. It is not that one gets to travel through India at a stretch and indulge in what they love doing the most, and Goila made the most of it. Starting from Delhi, moving on to Punjab and travelling southwards via Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

The language is simple. A little crisp editing could have made the travelogue more interesting. Nagpur being my hometown, seeing  Saoji's recipe made me very happy. Recipes from Kolkata were disappointing, though. Goila's travel tales are not only heartwarming to read, but also

I have book marked the recipes of sindhi kadhi, sikkim chicken curry, chocolate football momos, tofu kofta, chicken rizala, saoji curry, baghare baingan, hyderabadi gobhi musallam biryani and tomato, dried fenugreek & wine rice, to try out in my own kitchen very soon.

Rating: ***.5/5

Monday, June 22, 2015

#BookReview: Simple plane love by Priyanka Luthra

On the jacket:

A perfect landing is a mirage, the more you chase it, the more it eludes you…' Meet Captain Meera Khanna. As a first officer on an Aeroflot Aviation plane, with a luxurious apartment in the beautiful city of Manila, she seems to have it all. Flying to exotic destinations, navigating turbulent flights through typhoons and handling engine failure are all in a day's work. Even when a leg injury forces Meera to take time off her busy schedule, she has the perfect solution - an exciting vacation to Subic Bay with her glamorous best friend Diana, aka Dee. And nothing could have been a better idea, what with the unexpected arrival of her childhood friend, the suave Aditya. But when Aditya seems to want more than friendship, it throws Meera off-kilter. Will Meera's perfect life come to an abrupt landing? Or will she find her happily-ever-after? In Simple Plane Love, join Captain Meera on a rollicking adventure, where navigating an aeroplane seems simpler than negotiating the many twists and turns of love.


I had read Luthra before I read her book. I had stumbled some of her short stories even before I knew who she was. And I'd wondered if she is a published author. Surprisingly, she wasn't one back then, but now she is.

Simple Plane Love is a simple story of a simple girl, Captain Meera Khanna. Do you, for even a second believe that a girl who flies fearlessly can be simple and have a simple story. Well, yes and no. Meera is one of us. In fact, there is a Meera in all of us. Bold, yet scared. Sure, yet nervous. Independent, yet a child. An independent girl, Meera lives alone in Manila. The book begins with her last flight before she packs her bags to head back to India. 

Luthra has developed her characters with love and care. It shows. Be it Meera herself, or her mother, her boss or her friends, they are all well-rounded characters. The events seem straight out of a real person's life and nothing seems far fetched. Having said this, I think Luthra can do better. I look forward to even more beautifully sketched stories by the author.

Rating: ****/5

[This is an author request review, however the views are mine and unbiased.]

#BookReview: Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing Edited by Annie Zaidi

On the jacket:

Unbound is a collection of some of the most significant writing by Indian women over the past two thousand years. Divided into eleven sections, it encompasses writing on various aspects of life: spirituality, love, marriage, children, food, work, social and individual identity, battles, myths and fables, travel, and death. While many of the pieces are commentaries on the struggle that women undergo to overcome obstacles—social and political—all of them showcase the remarkable creative ability of their creators. The term ‘women’s writing’ has often been used to limit and stereotype the work of women writers. But it also has a larger and more constructive meaning, and that is the sense in which it has been used to inform and describe the context of the book. As Annie Zaidi explains in her introduction: ‘Women bring to their writing the truth of their bodies, and an enquiry into the different ways in which gender inequity shapes human experience.’
Selected from hundreds of novels, memoirs, essays, short story collections and volumes of poetry that were either written in English or that have been translated into English, the pieces in this collection include the most distinctive and powerful voices from every era. There are verses from the Therigatha, written by Buddhist nuns (circa 300 BCE), and writing by poet-saints like Andal, Avvaiyar, Lal Ded, Mirabai; modern classics by writers 
like Ajeet Cour, Amrita Pritam, Arundhati Roy, Attia Hosian, Bama, Bulbul Sharma, Irawati Karve, Ismat Chughtai, Kamala Das, Krishna Sobti, Mahasweta Devi, Manju Kapur, Mannu Bhandari, Mrinal Pande, Nayantara Sahgal, Pinki Virani, Qurratulain Hyder, Rashid Jahan, Romila Thapar, Sarojini Naidu, Saudamini Devi, Shivani; and powerful new voices from our time like Arundhathi Subramaniam, Nilanjana Roy, Nivedita Menon.


I had not read a lot of Indian women writer in the past. Few, whose names kept coming up in conversations, yes. But mostly, not. So when the opportunity to review Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing came up, it was thrilling. I have not read Annie Zaidi before though I have heard good things about her books. So, I picked this book up with some trust and some hesitation.

The cover is, let's not be shy with words, KICK-ASS. I was sold to the book here itself. When I turned the cover and reached the index, whatever doubts I had went flying through the window. This book is an extremely ambitious and daring project, I must say. Ambitious and very very difficult. It is not a matter of joke to research about women authors from the last 2000 years, read them, decide whom to include and whom not to, pick their best works and put them together in an order that will appeal to the reader, is no mean feat.

When putting together an anthology what is probably the most difficult, is choosing which stories to include and which ones to leave out. Also, in this case, which authors to include. Zaidi has done a great job regarding this, in my opinion. While reading Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing I felt that there is something in the book for everyone. You can pick your favourite authors/translators and read/re-read them. You can also have a pick from the authors you have not read but heard of. And, you can read works by authors completely unknown to you. 

If this book was compiled by someone else, the chosen authors and their works might have been different. But it becomes easier to associate with the chosen ones, once you read Zaidi's account in the introduction.

If you love literature, I'd say give this book a try. It is one such anthology which you might want to read a few pages of today, and come back to months later, to read someone else as your mood demands. This is a book to keep.

Rating: *****/5

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#BookReview: Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

On the jacket:

Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!  More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about …  Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?


Not a fan of YA fiction as I keep saying but I must say that Bloomsbury publication is coming up with some really good fiction in this genre, even for people who don't particularly like reading this genre!

The second book in the Ladybird series, Love Bomb is a light hearted take of our protagonist Betty Plum and her life. Betty has just turned 15, and though a little late compared to her peers, but she is finally in love and that too with the new kid in school. Toby is the new kid in school and according to Betty, the true love of her life.

The book begins on Betty's 15th birthday, when she breaks the tradition of reading her dead mother's letter to her. This used to be abirthday tradition but this year she decides she doesn't want to read it, when she learns this is the last one. Eventually she does open it and read it. 

Back at school, Betty seems to be getting Toby's attention. She is moving away from her best friends in the process but new love is previous too. How do things move on from here for Betty? 

The story is fun and cute, a story almost all girls can related to. A well-written book that will keep you hooked.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Bloomsbury India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: Anyone But Ivy Pocket (Ivy Pocket #1) by Caleb Krisp

On the jacket

Ivy Pocket is a twelve-year-old maid of no importance, with a very lofty opinion of herself. Dumped in Paris by the Countess Carbunkle, who would rather run away to South America than continue in Ivy's companionship, our young heroine (of sorts) finds herself with no money and no home to go to ... until she is summoned to the bedside of the dying Duchess of Trinity.  For the princely sum of £500 (enough to buy a carriage, and possibly a monkey), Ivy agrees to courier the Duchess's most precious possession – the Clock Diamond – to England, and to put it around the neck of the revolting Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. It's not long before Ivy finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy involving mischief, mayhem and murder.  Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by Iacopo Bruno, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is just the beginning of one girl's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ...


I am not a fan of young adult fiction as I keep mentioning. I simply cannot relate them to the books I'd read when I was a YA. When I read the blurb, it intrigued me and when I started reading the book, I was not disappointed one bit. This book is sheer genius, going by the other YA books that there are.

Ivy Pocket is an orphan who holds a very high opinion of herself and genuinely belives she is the prettiest, smartest and wittiest kid ever. She is a nutcase and has a tendency to exaggerate and lie. She is funny. so funny in fact that even her sorrows seem like they will pass soon.

The plot has a lot of elements to it. It begins with Countess Carbunkle to whom she was a companion to, abandoning her & leaving to the dying Duchess of Trinity entrusting her with personally taking the Duchess' most entrusted jewel to a twelve year old girl. From the moment Ivy accepts this deal, her life turns into a saga of mysteries. Thefts, deaths and confessions become everyday affair.

The narration is brilliant as is the plot and character development. Even before the story is half way through I was impatient with curiosity to know the climax. It takes it's time to build up, with its own twists and turns but the plot does reach it's deserving end. I cannot wait to read more books in this series, however irritating Ivy can get, she is extremely lovable too.

Rating: ****/5
[This review is for Bloomsbury India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Every Author Needs An Editor

Over the last three years, I have read a large number of books by present day Indian authors. This did two things: broke my firm belief that all Indian authors today are CB's clones and brought to light why most of these books aren't fairing as they should, in the market.

India has a huge number of under-rated authors who are really good story tellers. They are under-rated for reasons ranging from lack of publicity to poor language in the books. Let's face it, if I am writing a book, I would want it to be a hit amongst the serious readers, would I not? Then why not take the extra step to make it perfect.

Writing is no easy job. It drains you, it takes every ounce of your imagination. So if you are a published author, congratulate yourself. You did well! 

A writer is a human, at the end of a day. A good story teller, albeit human. And even if a person who is very careful with his grammar and language, with all his focus on the plot and continuity, it is possible that there are things that they see through. Happens. Like for instance, I am writing this post. I might not be able to see some minor flaw which someone else can. And that is not all that an editor helps an author with:

  • An editor reads your draft as a reader would. So, along with editing and proofreading, you also get first hand reader review on how the plot is.
  • As someone who has experience in dealing with plots and giving the correct treatment to them, your editor can help you give the right direction to your plot, if ever you lose track.
  • It's always good to have a second pair of eyes.
  • It's difficult to edit your own work. Your brain is tuned such that it will read whatever you wrote the first time, as correct. 
  • You have a story to write. While writing, you are bound to move from past to present, active to passive, first person to third person in your narration. Do you take care of all this or do you write the story waiting to be told? You tell the story. Let the specialist bring it all together.
  • Grammar. Small publishers don't care about editing and almost all authors who get their books published through these publishers, are handed books with very poor or no editing. Don't depend on your publisher unless one of the big names has signed you. This is a risk you should not take.
A book is an author's baby. Would you give your child a mediocre life while preparing her for the future? No, you will give her the best you can. Then why shape your book in a mediocre way and drop it in the market, totally unprepared? Invest in a good editor. Your book deserves only the best.

And don't forget, mistakes cost money. A well edited book would earn you lots more.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My five favourite cocktails

Pic courtesy:

I love to mix drinks. Love, love, love. If I could, I'd have been a mixologist. Since that didn't happen, let me share with you all, my favourite cocktails. I promise, these are kick-ass recipes I'd experimented with in my younger days.


Dry gin: 60ml
Jamuns: 5-6
Lime juice: 10ml
Sugar syrup: 15ml
Salt, pinch of red chilly powder

Put the jamuns in a cocktail shaker and muddle them. Add all the other ingredients except the salt & the red chilly powder and shake. Rim the cocktail glass with salt mixed with a sprinkle of red chilly powder. Double strain the mix into the glass. Serve chilled.

Tamarind Martini

Tamarind concentrate (30 ml/1 ounce)
Cold water (120 ml)
Chili powder (mixed with little sugar)
vodka (60ml)
Lime wedges

In a shaker, add the concentrate, vodka, ice and water. Shake well. Rub lemon on the rim of the glass and dip it into the mixture of chilli powder and sugar. Pour the martini and serve chilled.

Vodka Shikanji

Vodka (60 ml)
Lime juice (30 ml)
Sugar syrup (45 ml)
Mint leaves 5-10
Shikanji Salt 1tsp

In a shaker, add vodka, lime juice, sugar syrup, mint leaves, shikanji salt and crushed ice. Pour in two glasses and serve chilled.

Mango Margarita

Granulated sugar
Triple sec (a cup and half)
Tequila (a cup and half)
Mango chunks
Regular sugar
Crushed ice

Blend the mango chunks into pulp. Add ice, tequila and triple sec, followed by a lime juice and the granulated sugar. Blend until smooth. Moisten the rim of the glass with a lemon and dip the rim in a plate with the mixture of regular sugar and lemon juice.

Fill the glasses with the blended drinks. Serve chilled.


White Rum
Mint Leaves
Lime wedges
White sugar
Ice cubes

Place a mint leave and a wedge of a lemon in a glass and muddle.When the lemon's juices are out, add a couple of more wedges and sugar. Muddle again.Now add ice and over it, pour the white rum followed by the soda. Stir and taste. Add more sugar if needed. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#BookReview: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

On the jacket:

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.


This book arrived home when I was desperately looking for a feel-good book to read. My idea of feel-good here is a book that makes me feel better, the content needn't be feel-good. I had also read rave reviews about All The Bright Places, so obviously had a good amount of expectations peppered with curiosity.

Violet Markey and Theodore Finch's story, this books begins with a line that opens a lot of probabilities to follow in the pages to come - Is today and good day to die? Violet and Finch meet when dealing with major problems of their own and it's only with each other when they can be themselves and deal with all their problems. 

Violet and Finch are opposite yet similar. While she is popular yet a people pleaser; he is brash and goes out of the way to hurt people. Yet, both need saving. It was in an instant that I could identify with both the characters, we either know them or we are one of them. The story is that realistic. Jennifer Niven has done a very fine job in building the characters.

All the Bright Places isn't as happy a story as the title suggests. It broke my heart, to be honest. Beautifully written, this story grips the heart. It has left me in awe, a little heart-broken and sad, yet feeling oh so wonderful. You know how at times something is so sad that you cry buckets, yet you feel good that your cried? That's exactly what this book did to me.  

Rating: *****/5

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#BookReview : Canvas of Dreams by Jaya Siva Murty

On the jacket:

Riya seems to have lost everything—the man she loves to another woman, her husband to death and her soul to fear.  An unexpected meeting with her first love, Ryan, stirs up long repressed feelings but also allows her to move out of the long shadow of the past. Unburdened, she feels free to pursue her dream of opening an art gallery and the handsome and intriguing artist Rehaan. But memories of her marriage refuse to fade away and then suddenly, Ryan shows up in her life again. Now, Riya must find the courage to reconcile her past and present.  For Riya, life is a canvas of dreams. Can she distinguish between reality and fantasy? 


A love story that is far from being a mushy story wrapped in a bubble. Canvas of Dreams is what real love stories are made of - more pain than bliss, more sacrifices than gains. Riya our protaginist loves Ryan but he is not the man she gets to marry. The man she does get to have a marriage with, dies. And she is left a scarred individual trying to get back on her feet, bury her past and release her dream of opening an art gallery.

Riya meets Ryan in Singapore. Ryan who is now married. She knows she still loves him but also that she needs to stay out of his life. Once back in Mumbai, she tries to confront her nightmares and bring a closure to her past. Thing about this book is that Riya is not a character, she is one of us - she is us. We have all had our share of men - some stayed, some damaged us, some healed us.  

The plot has been give a very subtle treatment. As I said, this is not your usual mush. This is a heartwarming tale of a woman and her life.

Rating: ****/5
[This review is for IndiReads. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]


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