Monday, August 22, 2016 0 Comments

Book Review: Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen




'A man who can retain his sense of humour under pressure has nothing to worry about: Thakuma'


Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen (Rupa Publications) is a family drama with a sweet touch of mild love story.

After returning from Oxford, Abir Mookerjee opens a restaurant, Eggs & Bacon.  He feels challenged when The Mad Hatter, another restaurant, opens across the town whose owner is lovely Kimaya Kapoor who excels in making wonderful Crème Brulee that turns out to be a challenge for Eggs & Bacon’s chocolate mousse.

Abir finds his life more challenging as his mother, Debjani Mookerjee, keeps pestering him with so called suitable marriage proposals, and for that she keeps consulting Purohitmoshai, unaware how wicked and greedy he is.

Two close people, Abir’s laconic, expressionless sister and impossible friend Rana Raina, are absolutely no help for him. The only person who brings some solace in his disoriented life is his deceased grandmother, thakuma, who watches him from a coconut tree.

What about Abir’s marriage? How would he manage to tackle challenging Kimaya Kapoor? What about his love life? You will have to read this book to find out these (and many more) answers, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun read.

The book has a very slow opening which I didn’t like, but it picked up the pace and made an interesting read.

The story of Creme Brulee is simple. What makes this story entertaining is nice characterization. Every character has its own quirk and importance. I particularly liked the character of Thakuma, the deceased grandmother even though it was completely illogical. Purohitmoshai is annoying yet interesting. Rana Raina is one exuberant character!

I liked Kimaya but I wanted to know more about her.  I fee her part has been ignored.

The writing is good. A slight touch of humour makes the flow of the story delightful, but it was a tad disappointing to spot some glaring editing/typesetting errors, especially when the book comes from a big brand like Rupa Publications. The book has been written in multiple points of view, and the author has done it skillfully.

The romance is subtle, and I love the development of slow paced feeling of love. This dangling love triangle made the story somehow unpredictable.

Overall, for me it was a nice entertaining read!


I received an Advance Review Copy from the publisher for an honest review.







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Saturday, August 20, 2016 0 Comments

My Bookish Feelings.




Recently, I visited a blog Rain and a Book by Sreesha who posts honest reviews. Her latest post was about her bookish thoughts, which was inspired by Lata's This Post. On both blogs I found this interesting bookish thoughts, and decided to do it.

So, here goes my Bookish Feelings!



A book you’ve read more than once: I usually don’t reread books. But two books fall under this category. This Matter of Marriage byDebbie Macomber. Shukra Grah Par Dhava by Professor Diwakar.

A book you would take on a desert island: How would I manage with just one book? It would be all Books in my To Be Read list.

A book that made you cry: Books don’t make me cry. But, books that tug my heart were ‘Me Before You by Jojo Moyes’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

A book that scared you: None.

A book that made you laugh out loud: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.

A book that disgusted you: Sita’s Curse by Shreemoyee Piu Kundu

A book you loved in preschool: Er…I don’t remember.

A book you loved in elementary school: Nandan and Comics (Mostly by Cartoonist Pran)

A book you loved in middle school: Sitaaron Se Aage by Krishna Chander.

A book you loved in high school:  AalamPanah by Rafia Manjurul Ameen & Gunahoon Ka Devta by Dharmveer Bharti.

A book you hated in high school: None. Or I don’t remember.

A book you loved in college: Swami by Sharatchandra and Datta by Sharatchandra. 

A book that challenged your identity: None I can think of.

A series that you love: Stranger Series by Novoneel Chakraborty.

Your favorite horror book: Haven’t read many; it has to be Frankly Spooking by Sri.

Your favorite science fiction book: I don’t read them now. Used to enjoy in school days. Professor Diwaakar books especially Samay Ke Swaami & Shukra Grah Par Dhaava.

Your favorite fantasy book: I don’t enjoy them. So, it has to be Sitaaron Se Aage that I had read as a child.

Your favorite mystery: Rebecca.

Your favorite biography: Reading my first. My Story (an autobiography) by Kamala Das.

Your favorite classic: I’m not much into classics. So, it has to be Rebecca, the only classic I enjoyed immensely!

Your favorite romance book: This Matter of Marriage by Debbie Macomber and Alam Panah. Gone With The Wind, maybe.

Your favorite book not on this list: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni.

Your favorite translated book: Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer.

What book are you currently reading: My Story by Kamala Das and Crème Brulee by Ramona Sen.

What book have you been meaning to read: Every Seventh Wave (The sequel to Love Virtually) by Daniel Glattauer.


Enjoyed reading this list? Want to do it? Please share your links if you plan to do.









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Sunday, August 14, 2016 6 Comments

Be professional. So what if you Work From Home






People, generally, don’t consider ‘Work from Home’ as ‘Work’. Then came the word ‘Freelance’, which changed the perception a little, but raised another problem. People take the word ‘Free’ seriously. 

Not only people but some ‘Working from Home’ professionals tend to take their work lightly. A few years back, I wouldn’t have dared to say, ‘I am a writer and I work from home.’ Even though I was published in a couple of magazines. But, I have learned gradually (Now, I have published my first novel We Will Meet Again.)

What could be the reason that we hesitate to say that?

We don't take our work seriously, that's why we don't feel confident! Women, who are main care-giver at home, think that they have plenty of time, thus their work takes a back seat.

We are more efficient when we have limited time. We would manage in couple of hours if we need to go to the office but if we are at home, we just waste time.

Recently, Women's Web (A wonderful website for women) initiated a tweet-chat on Work From Home. I missed the chat but I read every answer. Here, I am sharing those insightful statements by some successful ‘Work From Home’ writers/bloggers/editors.

What can be the advantages or challenges of working from home?

Advantages

You are your own boss: It's a wonderful feeling, undoubtedly! You don’t have to follow any instructions (Of course, you need to keep deadlines). You are not compelled to work with someone (boss) you hate! You can choose, and you can if you are good!

You don’t have to ask for a leave: You have the liberty to work according to your own convenience. Even if you have a deadline, you can always adjust. You can set your priorities for the time being.

You don’t have to commute for the office: You save time, and spare yourself from hustle bustle of traffic, and office politics.  Aparna V Singh, Editor of Womens Web, says, ‘Given Bangalore's crazy commute I get more done at home!’


 Challenges

Balancing family life and work

 If you have a toddler (like me!), it is the biggest challenge! Family comes first. Being the main care giver, family expects this from you. Sometimes, difficult situations arise and you can’t help. Rachna Parmar, Freelance Writer and Blogger, and Editor @ Money View, says, ‘It throws my schedule off when kids are at home due to unavoidable reasons, like if they are sick or if it’s holiday. It becomes difficult to stick to the deadlines.'

However, it’s somehow easy if you stay alone at home after everyone leaves for work/school/college.

The environment

Environment of your home and an office are entirely different. In office, you are more disciplined while you are at ease when you’re home.

This is a huge challenge since people think that if you are home, you are always available. Vidya Sury, Freelance Writer, Blogger and Editor, says, ‘It’s challenging when houseguests turn up. I wish I had 9 hands and three brains!’

Income

This is hard. You are not a salaried employee and your income depends on your calibre. Sometimes, you thrive as a freelancer. Sometimes, you have to face rejections.Your income may fluctuate. The biggest challenge is that if your income is not steady/hefty, people don’t take your work seriously.  People, especially family, consider your work as your hobby, and this is heart-breaking.

‘When you start working from home, be prepared to work for less money with a reputed company. Don't chase money. Chase quality assignments.’ Kanchana Banerjee, Freelance Writer and author of an upcoming novel A ForgottenAffair’, suggests.

 Tips

Environment matters.  So, create a work space at home. A quiet, bright corner which looks like your work station.  And, dress well before you start working at home. You would think why can’t you work in your pajamas? Because, dressing well puts a positive psychological effect on your mind. You feel more organized, professional and confident.

Kanchana banerjee and Vidya Sury follows this rule.

‘Self Discipline is very important,’ says Rachna Parmar.

True! Feel like a professional. So what if you work from home! Make your family understand, no matter if you’re successful or still trying, that your work is important and you need space. Choose a time when you can work uninterrupted.

‘Get out of home sometime. Else it totally kills your creativity,’ suggests Aparna V Singh.

It's a good idea. Go for a walk. It will refresh your mind plus it will give you a ‘me time’ when you can think and plan. And, maybe get a striking idea!

Most importantly, never give up! The idea of ‘Working from Home’ is not hypothetical. There are many people who work from home and are successful (I mean really successful)!







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Sunday, August 7, 2016 11 Comments

When Sita Meets Sati. Part 4 (Final)








When Sita Meets Sati Part 1

When Sita Meets Sati Part 2

When Sita Meets Sati Part 3



Devi Sati sighs and continues. ‘You were a mother figure for Mahadev, Sita. How could he have accepted me when I disguised myself as you?  He has abandoned me, mentally, that very moment and the plot of future disaster was created that very moment.’

Tears sprout in my eyes. I squeeze her hand gently. ‘So, you are not alone, Devi Sita. Not the only sufferer.'

'But, it hurts. Life seems bleak," I say.

“It does. But, if you can see darkness only, it doesn't mean there's no light. Even the darkest nights promise a bright morning. So, get up and collect your courage. People call me Shakti. I, Shakti, want to share my strength with you. Strength to endure. To evolve. To rise. To win. To live a life with profound dignity.’

She smiles at me lovingly. Oh, this smile reminds me of my mother. "You have to care for your little ones too. You have to make them strong just like you. Exceptional warriors.”

Wind blows and I hear rustling of leaves. Another Banyan leaf falls on my lap.

Little ones. Not little one. Them not him or her. Warriors. Before I could ask anything she says, “You look tired. You should sleep now.”

I do as she says obediently. I ask for her hand, not wanting her to go. She holds my hand affectionately.

Gentle sunshine touches me and I wake up, hearing chirping birds. For the first time in my life I have slept until sunshine touched me. This looks a happy place in the morning. With all these lovely creatures, brightness and calmness. Devi Sati is not here.  Was it a dream or reality? I can still feel the warmth of her touch. A sense of sadness and loneliness clutches my heart yet again. Then, a very familiar voice resounds. ‘Endure, strength, evolve, courage, rise, win, dignity. And Shakti!

I get up and start walking, in search of a new life. Oh, I have to count my mistakes too. Where was I? Two….


A big thank you to those who read and commented on my blogposts. Special mention: Tulika, Shilpa,and Kala for commenting (and appreciating) on every post, especially for Sita - Sati Series. I am absolutely new to this genre (mythology), so your encouraging comments mean a lot! Thank you!

P.S.: Please feel free to share any tips/suggestions/negative feedback regarding my writing especially for mythology. 


I am participating in BarAThon Challenge (Final day's prompt: Promise)








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Saturday, August 6, 2016 4 Comments

When Sita Meets Sati. Part 3









She tried to test my Ram? My Ram? My breath quivers. And, what did she plan to test him?

Devi Sati starts speaking. ‘So, I started my ambitious mission. I arrived on the earth. Mahadev was kind enough to accompany me even though he was not completely with me, but this mission was mine and I had to execute it alone. He had said.

I knew Mahadev had his eyes on me. Of course, he knew everything. He just didn’t know what I had in my mind because if he did, he wouldn’t have allowed me to do that.

I waited and saw Shree Ram and Laxman coming. The very same anxious expressions. The urgency to know your whereabouts,” Devi Sati says as she looks at me. ‘And then, I did something that I shouldn’t have. I disguised myself as YOU, Devi Sita!’

This fact startles me. She tried to mislead Ram. The breeze feels thick, suddenly, a little difficult to inhale. My heartbeats races faster.

'I approached them with a beatific smile on my lips, I faked longing in my eyes,'  Devi Sati continues, 'Shree Ram smiled the moment his eyes landed on me. The smile so beautiful. Laxman looked perplexed. Shree Ram’s smile encouraged me. So, he thought he had found his Sita, finally. I approached them with hasty steps. I needed to look eager. We were finally face to face when Shree Ram folded his hands, and bowed in greeting.

“Mata, you are alone? Mahadev hasn’t arrived with you today?” he said, and his words came as shock. A shameful shock!' Devi Sati pauses to compose her breath.

 It somehow seems deceitful.

'Sounds deceitful, no?' Devi Sati says as if reading my thoughts. 'Even I felt so when I realized that he actually could see through me, no matter how I looked. That moment I didn’t feel like Sati, Shakti, The Significant Half of none other than Lord Shankar. I felt vulnerable. A sense of surprise and shame washed over me. I was speechless. Such a wishful thinking it was! To test the divinity of Shree Ram whom my husband worshiped.

When I returned to Mahadev, he raised his eyebrows which said ‘I told you.” 

At Kailash, I said asked for his forgiveness for not believing his words. While talking to him, I was about to sit beside him, my destined place, when he stopped me.

“Why don’t you sit there?” he said, pointing towards a seat just across from him. I skipped several beats. He changed my place. An unknown fear gripped me. His tone was calm rather amusing but there was something in his eyes that seemed different. A certain kind of seriousness that was unusual when he looked at me. A tinge of sadness that arises when you lose something.’

Devi Sati touches my hand lightly as she looks at me intently. “I knew it that very day that something has changed between us and I was the one who caused that change. I realized it later why he did so. If only I had listened to him. I wish I had listened to him.'


To Be Continued... (Final Part) 

When Sita Meets Sati Part 4 (Final)


I am participating in BlogAThon Challenge (Today's theme: Wishful Thinking)






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Friday, August 5, 2016 6 Comments

Tiny Pink Shoes




Misti was reading a tattered picture book, sitting on the floor while her mother cooked dinner nearby. Her three year old brother is playing with wrecked toys.

Misti was pretending to read but her entire attention was towards the corner of the house where rested this beautiful pink tiny brand new shoes. She had got it finally after waiting for months. No need to wear those torn pair of chappals.

‘How pretty these shoes are! Tiny blue butterflies, adorning them, looks like they’d fly anytime. Just like those colourful butterflies she tries to catch in the field.’ Misti thought.

Mother announced dinner and Misti closed the book, carefully arranging the disarrayed pages. Tomorrow is Durga Astmi, and Misti was very excited to wear her new shoes. She was so excited that she didn't mind eating dal and chapattis for the 20th time in the last 23 days.

She had preferred shoes over clothes as her mother couldn’t afford both. Her brother had got new clothes. And her mother? Nothing.

The next morning, Misti was up early. Her mother didn't need to wake her today. Dressed in a faded, starched blue frock and her new tiny pink shoes, she looked lovely.

“My frock matches these blue butterflies, no, mother?” she asked her mother, pointing towards tiny butterflies stitched on her shoes. Her mother just smiled. A sad smile.

The temple was pretty crowded today, smelling of incense and crushed flowers. Chants and tinkling bells sounded soothing. Misti took her shoes off  and kept them in a corner. She followed her mother who carried her brother in her arms, putting her feet carefully over the messy floor.

After offering prayers to Durga Ma, they came out with Prasad in their hands. Excited to go to the fair next, Misti headed towards the corner where she had kept her shoes.

“Where are my shoes?” she shrieked.

“I can’t find them anywhere,” she yelled after searching them everywhere as her eyes filled with tears.


I am participating in BlogAThon Challenge. (Today's Theme: Tiny Shoes)





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Thursday, August 4, 2016 6 Comments

The Truth







‘What does “Caught Red-Handed mean?’ Mayank asked his mother as he was doing his English homework.

“When you find someone doing something wrong,” his mother answered as she read a book.

Vishal, the younger child, shot a covert glance at them as he tried to look busy solving a sum.

“What if nobody catches you red-handed?” Mayank asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” his mother said, looking at him. “Because you know you are wrong, and it’s very important to be right in your own eyes.”

“What about your short story competition, Mayank?” his mother asked after a pause. “Tomorrow is the last date of submission, I think.”

Mayank stopped writing and looked at his mother. “Yes. But I can’t participate this time.”

“Why?” His mother asked, looking surprised. “You had worked hard. And, it was good. I read that.”

“But, I can’t find my story. I kept it in my bag and now it's not there.”

After some time, Mayank sat at the dining table and his mother served him chapattis. “Where is Vishal?” she asked and called him.

Vishal appeared from his room with a paper in his hands. He approached Mayank and extended that paper. “Bhai, your story,” he said. “I am sorry, bhai. I stole this.” Tears slipped down his chubby cheeks.

Silence.

Vishal continued, “You win every contest. I too wanted to…I couldn't write one. I’m sorry.”

“Okay, let’s eat,” his mother said in a calm tone as she put vegetable curry in Vishal's bowl.

“You are not upset? Not surprised?” Vishal asked.

“We are upset but not surprised,” said Mayank.

Vishal was baffled.

“Because we already know that you stole my story,” Mayank said. "We were waiting for you to tell the truth."

“How?”

“We caught you red-handed.” Mayank smiled.

“We just didn’t tell you.” His mother ruffled Vishal’s hair. “That's very bad, Vishal but, I’m glad you accepted your mistake, eventually. I love you, beta.”

Vishal started crying and his mother collected him in an affectionate embrace.

“It's okay, finish your meal,” Mayank said. “Let’s help you with your story.” He munched on. "Do you have any plot in your mind?"


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