Monthly Archives: July 2011

Book Review of “Growing Up In Pandupur” by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Growing Up In Pandupur

by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Though this book is essentially for kids, I’d recommend everyone to read it.

The issues addressed herein are so real and touching.

Growing up in Pandupur is a collection of 13 short stories for kids. Now, Pandupur is a fictitious township in South India. It is a figment of the authors’ imagination. And truly a brilliant imagination.

The book opens with the map of Pandupur, situated near the River Dhun.

The township has the essential necessities: a railway station, a bustling marketplace, couple of schools, some residential colonies (societies); parks, playgrounds, an orphanage; the river Dhun and of course the Dhun river dam project. So essentially engineers working on the dam project have made Pandupur their residence, with their families. And all stories connect most of the residents of that town.

The book opens with a beautiful song dedicated to the river Dhun. Creative and lyrical, the authors capture your heart already with the very first page.

Actually, the cover page of the book is so darn colorful that it catches the eye and fancy of all. The two days that I had the book on my work desk, all my colleagues walking around made sure they picked it up. It is that inviting! They all appreciated the illustration and loved whatever part they read randomly. (*Cheers Priya Kuriyan!)

Some of them have already requested me to lend them the book, while others have already bought it from Landmark. This actually shows how appealing the book is!

Coming back to the stories, all of them are beautifully penned.

The first story –“Polka-dotted Party” is about Raghav’s birthday party that he ends up celebrating at the orphanage. And why so? Well, that is for you to read and enjoy.

In “Goblins”, we see naughty Tejas reign his kingdom of fantasy world as Hobgob Supreme, enslaving other mortals. A very cute story about growing up and sibling love.

Moving on to “Changing Chintamani”, we see how little Chintamani’s life changes as he takes up football coaching during his summer vacations.

“The House Painted Blue” sees three musketeers Thangi Timmayya and her friends, the twins, Situ and Gitu, trying to solve a a funny mystery.

“Mallipoo, Free” shows how love bonds humans and animals.

“Nisha” is the story of a small girl who faces child abuse. The way the story is put actually makes it more relevant to today’s age, and how children can and should distinguish between a good touch and a bad touch.

“About Grandfathers and Trees” is a tender story about a grandfather’s demise.

“Sister Song” portrays sibling love. “For Preet” is a coming of age story, showing how girls mature faster and boys…remain boys! This one I absolutely loved!

“A Boat in the Rain” captures the heart of a young boy and the grief/anger he carries with him.

“Evenings in 201” connects Brigadier Ahmed and Rohan in quite an unexpected way.

“Warm-fuzzy” is an absolute poignant story about children and how they actually see each other.

The last story, “The River Came Home”, deals with development issues and how it affects some people, but the moral is that nothing remains forever. We have to accept the changes and draw strength from our past to move on to a better future.

Through Pandupurs’ children, Adithi and Chatura Rao weave a web of stories–life lessons in growing up: laughter and tears, insecurities, small unkindnesses and surprising friendships, stories that will resonate in the hearts and minds of children everywhere.

No fancy gizmo talk or fantasy world magic fluttering around. Everyday tales of growing up that appeals and resonates with children (and young adults) of all ages.

The setting is ideal and the imagery drawn in the readers mind is so real that you can visualize every story as you read it.

The book truly has it all – the beauty of Pandupur; the innocence of the children around; real issues that need attention; awareness towards certain topics that children refrain from talking about; topics that grown-ups do not discuss or tell kids about; all subjects woven to perfection!

The stories remain with you forever. Reading about Pandupur, I really wish to make a pit-stop at Pandavpur (a town near Mysore that inspired the authors) to capture the images in my heart.

The authors, Adithi and Chatura Rao craft such beautiful stories, bringing to life the ordinary experiences in such a marvelous way that opens your eyes and mind to a lot many things that go unnoticed. Especially for children. It teaches a lot about friendship, sibling love, growing up. The narrative is smooth and flawless.

This one is definitely a MUST HAVE/MUST READ book!

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Book Review of “The Quest For Nothing” by Anurag Anand

The Quest For Nothing

by Anurag Anand

A contemporary love story that not only provokes thought but also makes you realize the importance of the people in your life – your family.

We usually end up taking our families and our loved ones for granted. And Anurag’s novel –The Quest For Nothing quite remarkably hints at that.

The story traces Akash’s life- from his management college to his professional and personal life thereafter.

To sum up the story, quite briefly:
Akash lands himself a good corporate job soon after his MBA (very tactfully, may I add), and ends up marrying Deepali (a very caring and rooted girl) in the first half of the book. He then shifts base to Mumbai to work with the FMCG sector, with his better half and both of them end up boggled by the shackles of corporate life. Though their love doesn’t diminish, the approach does. What initially was cute and kiddish about Deepali, ends up being immature and irritating at times. What follows is the increasing distance- not just physically but emotionally too.
Yes, they start taking each other for granted. At least Akash does. Good thing is that he realizes it.

We move on to see Akash moving back to Delhi as he gets a better offer in the finance sector. Distances draw the couple further apart. He ends up worrying more about Monisha (a conniving subordinate) who uses him as a hook to retain her job with the company as recession strikes.
He also befriends a stranger online to share his woes.
Towards the end of the novel, we see Akash stuck in a life/career threatening scam, only to be saved by his wife and a dear friend Vikram.

I really don’t want to give much of the story away –because this is one book I feel you should read.

The relevance of the subject is sure to resonate with your life. Young working professionals have fallen into a rut and almost everyone ends up making a similar mistake (the one Akash makes). We place our careers ahead of our families and our lives. We take it upon us to provide a better lifestyle to the ones we love, but it leads us to a path where we end up making certain “not so right” choices. In the zest to stay ahead in the rat race and to succeed professionally, we leave our lives behind.

The characters felt real. I started to care for Deepali and Akash at a point. I maybe even used some colorful language when I felt that Akash was being a “typical male” by not cherishing what he has and instead pursuing something that he doesn’t need/deserve. That was the level of connectivity here.
Akash had a great career, a loving wife, a smooth life…until he stepped on the axe, as if quite willingly!

I cannot stress enough on how much I adore the narration and the author’s lucid writing. A very gripping read that takes you on an emotional journey spanning different cities and relationships. The brilliant twists and ardent writing makes this a page-turner.

I say, go pick this up if you haven’t still. It is really worth reading!

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Book Review of “Reality Bites” by Anurag anand

Reality Bites

By Anurag Anand

Reality Bites is a pleasant read. The story is about Atul’s hostel life and all that he faces/experiences as a hostelite.

It opens with Atul’s first day at engineering college and moves a bit into flashback revealing his hostel life in junior college.

Atul moves from Hissar to Delhi to be a part of a prestigious school (junior college) so that he can seek admission to a good engineering college after that. All this because of his dad, who wanted Atul to be either a mechanical or an electronics engineer to make the family proud. Yes, we all have faced such situations at some point or another – giving into the demands of our folks, who think we would do well in certain school/college just because someone else suggested the place, or some kid who happened to score a place in top notch engineering college having passed out from a certain school/college.

His first acquaintance, Alok, is a senior hostelite and he introduces Atul to Swati, Anirban and Bobby.
But the arrival of Atul’s room-mate Santosh (Senti) sets ground for new friendship.

Atul goes through the ups and downs of hostel and college life- making friends for life (Senti and Bengali), falling in love with the beautiful Ayesha Kapoor, spending wooping amounts on a weekend with her, indulging in frivolous passionate activity in an abandoned building near the squash court, getting his heart broken, getting into a mess, being saved by Swati, and the likes.

All the incidents in Atul’s life will bring in a smile as you read them. The narration is breezy and quite captivating. The author has a way with words.

Although, I didn’t quite get the “not so innocent” part of the love story. Was going away to Agra and staying in a hotel the “not so innocent” part? Or was Senti’s love story the “not so innocent” one? Yeah, Senti too falls in love with a girl elder to him and how he gets out of it makes for a hilarious read.

Sprinkled with humor, and garnished with some wisdom and maturity later, the story takes a peep in to the world of young adults…freshly in college – worrying about falling in and out of love, and fretting over exams and differences with friends…the cute stuff we, workaholics, have left far behind.

Quite an enjoyable read, as you lay in bed tucked in your warm blanket, with the continuous drizzle dropping the temperatures by the minute. Don’t forget the hot coffee mug by your side.

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Books and Authors that make you laugh.

I like the fact that some young authors are exploring the lost art of humor writing and coming up with funny books. Here are some of the recent few helpings (of books) that I relished.


Horn OK Please – HOPping to Conclusions by Kartik Iyengar, is a fun-tastic read. It chronicles Kartik’s journey across the country with his friends. The book is hilarious. It has anecdotes from the journey and snippets of randomness that end up instigating brain waves to ponder on the reality around us. A great read -to treasure and cherish!

Dork: The Incredible Adventures Of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, by Sidin Vadukut, is a chronicle of a dork. Blunders, mishaps, and errors are a plenty. Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese becomes more of person than just a character. Absolutely hilarious read.

Pyramid Of Virgin Dreams by Vipul Mittra is a brilliantly written satire that reveals the professional lives of IAS officers and the babus in government offices. The books gives a good insight to the world of babudom – the tongue-n-cheek incidents, the sarcasm, the power play by the ones in higher seats, and the ass-kissing agents (Joshi), are very smartly portrayed.
Corporate Atyaachaar: The Comical Journey Of An Office Doormat by Abhay Nagarajan, tells the story of a twenty four year old financial advisor as he encounters many ‘non-financial’ experiences including a dancing dog which suffers from a memory loss, a revelation that a client enjoys hog body massages, a client who paints nude art for charity, a curious case of a ‘stubborn’ nipple and a house hunt for a missing musical mobile!

May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray, GreatBong, is a sarcastic, politically incorrect and totally irreverent look at assorted random stuff including Bollywood C-grade revenge masalas, ribald songs of the people, movie punching, fake educational institutes, stubborn bathroom flushes, unreal reality shows, the benefits of corruption, opulent weddings, brains in toaster ovens, seedy theatres and pompous non-resident Indians.

The Mad, Mad World Of Cricket by Sudhir Dhar, captures the funny side of Cricket. All illustrations depicting the witty style of the artist, take a dig at the state of the country when the Cricket season is in full bloom!

The pioneer R. K. Laxman and his quips on the Indian society through the eyes of the common man make for the best satire.

Who can ever forget P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories? The renowned English humorist is best known for the eccentric characters and humorous plots making his readers laugh at every single opportunity.

Oh! and one of my personal favorites is Bill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes collection. Stupendous.

It sure is a difficult task to make someone smile. But it ain’t impossible. All you need (apart from brains) is a good sense of humor and an eye for details.

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Humor in Writing

Humor does rule the world. At least my world.

Reading humorous pieces livens up our day. It breaks the monotone of work and life. Most problems can be fixed with a dose of laughter. But what I like most about humor pieces is the fact that the point under scrutiny is communicated with much effect and quite intelligently. It also reflects a bit of the writer’s character trait. A writer with a good sense of humor will make sure his/her pieces amuse people.

And others on the verge of writing, here’s a bit of information on the various types of humor in writing:

Burlesque – a form of satire. Burlesque ridicules any basic style of speech or writing. (Parody makes fun of specific writings.)

Caricature – exaggeration of a person’s mental, physical, or personality traits, in wisecrack form. Most people think of sketches when you mention a caricature. But this form of humor reflects well in writing too.

Comedy – a ludicrous and amusing event or series of events designed to provide enjoyment and produce smiles or laughter usually written in a light, familiar, bantering, or satirical style. There are also topical, romantic, satirical, and verbal wit comedies.
The word comes from the French comedie which was derived from the Greco-Latin comoedia which was formed by combining komos, meaning “to revel,” and aeidein, meaning “to sing.”

Exaggeration/Hyperbole – An exaggerated witticism overstates the features, defects, or the strangeness of someone or something. Extreme exaggeration is Hyperbole.

Epigram- clever, short saying about a general group. Mostly satire about mankind.

Incongruity – Lack of harmony between two statements or events is incongruity. A particular situation leading to something totally unrelated does bring in a weirdly funny situation. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a good example of incongruity.

Irony – something that has been said or done differently than what was meant. It’s like someone says the opposite of what they mean and the listener believes the opposite of what they said.

Repartee – includes clever replies and retorts. The most common form is the insult.

Satire - wit that is critical humor. Satire is sarcasm that makes fun of something.

Surprise
– Surprise elements bring in suspense and unexpected twists. And humor eventually.

Sarcasm – this is one of the most popular forms of humor in literature. Known to be a sharp, harsh, bitter or cutting remark on something or someone, sarcasm often receives high appreciation.

Parody -humorous version of any well-known writing.

Pun
– Puns are more of word play. Jokes, one-liners and witty remarks often are composed of puns. (E.g.: What disease can one associate with cigarettes? Answer: Premature death.)

Wisecrack
– any clever remark about a particular person or thing. Wisecracks are quick wordplays about a person.

Wit -humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee. Wit is funny because of the sudden sharpness and quick perception. Wit can bite. Verbal wit is a type of humor known as Wordplay.

Another technique to induce laughter is to mold funny characters. Or give them certain personality traits that make them unique, in a funny way. Making characters give unsolicited advice (E.g.:  Advice to people who want to buy a puppy:  Don’t.); or narrating interesting anecdotes that induce laughter; or blending two or more words to make a new one (fantabulous from fantastic + fabulous) induce amusement.
(To be continued…
Books and Authors that make you laugh.
)

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Interview with Kunal Dhabalia

A renowned blogger and a lover of…words, Kunal Dhabalia is a software  professional who enjoys traveling and capturing images for life.

Here’s a quick interview with him.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Any author/book that has had the most  impact on your or your writing?

My inspiration for writing can be anybody. Most of my stories have been the result of  traffic jams. When ever I’m stuck in crawling traffic, my thoughts would veer to what  could be the story of the guy driving the bike next to me. Sometimes I think of the  start, at times I think of how the story should end, and from there the complete story  develops.
Share your experience of writing “Love All” and getting featured in Urban Shots.

Getting featured in ‘Urban Shots‘ was a scintillating experience. I had been a short  story writer for some time, and although I was getting good feedback from the  readers I did not have a good reach. That is where Ahmed stepped in and asked  me to write a short story for ‘Urban Shots’. Writing “Love All” and “Driving down the Memory Lane” was an interesting experience. I wrote the stories in 3-4 days but the editing took at least double the time. And it is very difficult to edit your own writing. Multiple re-readings and editing sessions later I finally felt that the stories were finished product.
If you had to choose one short story from Urban Shots, which one would it be and why?
‘Stick Figures’ by Vrinda Baliga. It has been told from a kid’s perspective and even then it is a very powerful read which is something quite hard to achieve. Vrinda has captured the emotions flawlessly.



Is there something else from your desk that you’d like all your readers to read?

Another anthology of short stories based on school & college life by Grey Oak Publications is already out – ‘Down the Road’. I’ve contributed a short-story in it – ‘The Accidental Author’. Apart from this I’ve been working on few more short stories for further publications. And all other random writings happen on my blog.


Many bloggers nowadays end up sequencing their blogs and getting them published. Or maybe make a full fledged story out of their experiences to get them published. What is your take on this shifting scenario where bloggers are taking their work offline to reach more people?

It is good in a sense – you reach a much wider audience. Although there is a chance, that a few of them would not enjoy the writing at all. The biggest advantage with a blog is that one has a very targeted audience. The blogger has already built a reputation, has a style of writing, the readers expect something of him/her – all of these things go for a toss as soon as the blogger reaches the offline audience. But if the writing is good enough, these things do not matter. What matters is that the writer has made an impression, and expanded his horizons.


Your idea of a vacation would include…?

Some place where I am completely cut off from the world :) No internet connection, no cell-phone towers – no external factors to distract me from spending a good time with my family.

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Book Launch of Reality Bites by Anurag Anand

5th July, Mumbai.

Landmark at Inifinity Mall was crowded as ever. But this time it was Landmark garnering most of the attention. And why not!?! Anurag Anand’s fifth novel, a fictional one, Reality Bites was launched at Landmark by eminent personalities of tinsel town – Sudhir Mishra (Director), Randeep Hooda (Actor) and reigning Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2011, Kanishtha Dhankhar.

(L to R: Randeep Hooda, Anurag Anand, Sudhir Mishra, Kanishtha Dhankhar)

Reality Bites: a not so innocent love story, reveals the life of the protagonist Atul through his hostel and college days and his tryst with love and paternal pressure. A humorous, adventurous, contemporary love story with a myriad of emotions so relatable that you’d be hooked on to it till the very last page.
Yes, the usual gimmicks were witnessed here too: Anurag and Kanishtha were the only ones to arrive at the venue before time while the rest of celebs walked in late. But the wait was definitely worth it.

They unveiled the book at the very end, after the interactive session. Amazingly, the audience seemed quite enthusiastic about the event and shot a volley of questions as soon as the floor was set open for audience interaction. The author seemed very calm and composed, and handled the questions with much panache. Sudhir Mishra is a strong opinionated man with all the right points to make you ponder. Randeep brought in a lot of humor to the evening. For some reason, Kanishtha seemed quite formal at  her first book launch event.

Overall, quite an exciting and fun-filled evening with quips and mirth and laughter on the floor.
Anyway, I are all set to review the book soon. Let’s see you beat me to that!

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