Sunday, 4 November 2018

A conversation with fashion stylist, Chandni K Doshi: an interview

As a fashion conscious woman of the 21st century, what can perk your mood? Well, I guess for me it HAS TO be a chit chat with a new and upcoming fashion stylist (who has already done a lot of work in the industry by styling Bigg Boss 11 fame Vikas Gupta and Roadies, Splitsvilla and Bigg Boss 11 fame Priyank Sharma on various occasions)! Join me and Chandni K Doshi in this conversation and don't forget to check out her blog The Style Influencer
( for tips and tricks related to fashion.

  1. To begin with, thanks a tonne for taking out time from your schedule for this conversation. You have been doing some great work for the past couple of years. How did the fashion bug bite you, actually?

Answer:  I think this fashion bug was already in my genes. My mother had some amazing taste with colours and palettes. Though she hails from a place and era where women weren’t allowed to do many things. She did break few rules of the family, though, and I broke all of them.

  1. From there till now where you're styling internet sensations like Priyank Sharma, Vikas Gupta and many more, how does it feel? Especially since some of the people you have styled are known to have a very quirky style statement.

Answer: Styling to me is my own private happiness. And Priyank is my personal favourite. Honestly, styling a celeb is always a challenge. Understanding their comfort zone is one thing, but convincing them to wear what can become a trend and how to carry it is the major task. I think my conviction in my work and confidence on my instinct brought me till here.

  1. What is style or fashion according to you? Also, what according to you is the current trend in the market?

Answer: Style and fashion are two different things. Style is something which you have right within you. That x-factor which can make your basic white shirt also super desirable. Whereas fashion to me is more of science. Yes!! It actually involves so much of "how's" and "why's" added with your personal style. Current trend varies from person to person, but I'm loving the casual looks flaunted by celebs these days. Those cute t-shirt dresses, sweatshirts, sneakers...!!! I love it when fashion becomes the medium to provide you comfort.

  1. When you look back at your teenage days and your style statement back then, if you were given a chance to style yourself from that time what would you like to change or add?

Answer: I committed my fashion disasters during my teenage. I come from a place where I was strictly supposed to be a girl next door. And simultaneously I had a fashion rebel poking me from deep inside. If I can ever rewind things, I would add more grace to my previous self. And if given a chance to erase something that will have to be my school farewell look from world history!!

  1. You are also a fashion blogger apart from being a stylist and your blog focuses till now mostly on basics. Tell me a few things that make your blog “The Style Influencer” unique.

Answer: Well I don't know if I’m different or not, but I'm very practical for sure. Generally, whenever I read any fashion blogger, I always wonder how practical will it be to wear the garment in day to day life. My idea of blogging is to write about the everyday fashion. Like in the work place, or college or a casual dinner or maybe when you are just out to shop. Being comfortable with your style is any day a preference than being a glam goddess and being really uncomfortable.

  1. There are endless fashion bloggers and vloggers out there in today's time. Youngsters these days also follow celebrities and how they dress up. Anyone you follow or admire?

Answer: Yes..!!! Alia Bhatt and Dolly Singh (blogger and YouTuber). They both have one thing in common. They are so much fun to look at. So casual yet desirable. I'm in love with their witty videos and pictures. And of course, I adore Alia Bhatt’s dressing sense. I love how she balances her looks.

  1. 7. If you were given a chance to style for any one person on the biggest day of their life, who would that person be and why? Additionally, any particular look you would love to recreate giving a special touch?

Answer: It has to be Fawad Khan! For any occasion. And for all the obvious reasons.

I would love to recreate Anarkali (played by the ethereal Madhubala) from the film Mughal-e-Azam. How mesmerising she looked in the ‘panghat’ song! It sure is my dream to be involved in such a project and dress up somebody like her.

  1. When there's fashion there has to be some major fashion faux pas. We keep on seeing all these people (celebs and non celebs) sporting clothes that are complete disasters. What is that one major fashion faux pas that you suggest people should be careful of?

Answer: Showing too much of skin. Or getting way too decked up. I always write (and believed so) about the power of ‘minimals’ in my blogs. I think minimalistic fashion is very underrated. Minimalism keeps gives one a mysterious aura thereby adding an overall charm to the persona. Same with make up or accessories.

  1. “Dress according to the function” - We've all heard this some or the other time from fashion gurus. How would you dress up a person (both a man and a woman) going to the following events:

Answer - Book launch:
Male: power of khadi kurta and denim
Ladies: Chikan kurtis. Oh, chikankari is my weakness!

Red carpet:

Male: Tuxedo. 
Ladies: saree (personal favourite) or a gown.

Dinner date:

Please wear something comfortable. You have anyway impressed the person hence they have agreed for the date.

Male: some casual shirt or tshirt. 
Ladies: some flare dresses! They look so dramatic and pretty.

Late night/early morning movie:

Male: joggers and a cool tee.
Ladies: boyfriend's denims and a box tee.

Brunch with family:

Guys: denim and polo t-shirts.
Girls: some cute dresses or kurtis.

  1. What is that one tip that you would like to give to the rising fashionistas of today's time?

Answer- Less is more! And be really comfortable in your own skin.

  1. Fashion and trends keep on changing. They also come back to being popular. In a few years from date, what do you picture to be trending back in fashion?

Answer- Those ‘Yash Raj’ chhiffon sarees in pastel colours. I so want them to make a come back!! Especially the ones shown in the film Chandni played by the forever gorgeous Sridevi.

  1. How different is your approach when you dress up/style a fictional character compared to a real life person?

Answer- It's not really different for me. The fictional characters, as I understand it, are also inspired from real life characters. All I do is dig deep into the background of the characters keeping the filter of my fashion science of the hows and whys activated. In fact, recently I posted a picture with my nose pin and an author friend of mine said he wants his protagonist in the next story to wear a nose pin. I guess this is how inspiration works.

  1. Last but not the least, where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?

Answer- I like to hold onto every plan of action of mine. All I can say as of now is I just want to make my parents extremely proud of me. Somewhere a fashion rebel still awaits a closure for a really old war.

It has been a pleasure talking to you, Chandni and I'm sure my readers would love this.

This girl next door from MP has turned into a fashion statement over the years and have proved that nothing is impossible for us! So, no matter what your gender is; get your fashion game strong and up your confidence! Much love ♥♥

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Heartfulness Way by Kamlesh D Patel (Daaji) : a review

Mediation has seen a lot of variants over the years. Some believe in the power of meditation while some don't. And it's completely fine if they have their own idea on this topic which isn't really clear to the human mind yet. There are thousands of books in the market speaking of the power of the meditative mind but none seem motivational enough. What if you get to read one such book written by a spiritual 'master’ and his 'disciple’ where they take you through the journey? The Heartfulness way by Kamlesh D Patel (Daaji) and Joshua Pollock is one such book.

About the book- If you knew that was a practical way to transcend suffering and fly into the sky of hope and contentment, would you be interested? That is exactly what heartfulness offers -  transforming us from the inside out so that we see the world in a new way, without the filters of our limitations.

To begin with, in the midst of all the books available in the market this one particular book attracted me for a few reasons. The first reason was the cover of the book. How I love the beautiful and enriching book cover that the book has. To top it off, it is basically a paperback with a book jacket and it feels so good to hold. Teamed up with cream colored pages, this book is everything I like in a book put together. Next, the blurb and the tagline of the book that says, “Heart based meditations for spiritual transformation” made me pick this one up.

I can today safely say that I found this book when I needed this book the most. I wouldn't have had the depth of understanding what the book has to say if I didn't read this book at the time I read it. The book takes off from the time Joshua sits and talks to Daaji regarding mediation and everything associated with it. Dare I say, through Joshua I felt that my questions were also answered. Throughout the book as the two co-authors of the book talk and discuss about everything related to meditation, the book also teaches the readers on how to meditate.

All the myths associated with meditation are busted and one reading of the book in itself is enriching for the soul. By the time you reach the conclusion of the book, you know what you're stepping for. Coming to the cons of the book I have to say a few words. For starters, like I already mentioned, this book caught me at the right time. I believe that when we pick up a book based on such a topic, it should come naturally to us and no matter what situation we're in or what we're going through, the book should connect to us.

The only flaw of this book can be the fact that it is for the serious crowd written in layman's language. I would've loved it had the book been written in a more quirky shade. The second half of the book, specially. That apart, everything about this book is wonderful. To me, this one takes back a 4 on 5 and I am looking forward to taking the Heartfulness Way...

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Amidst the Whirlwind by Sayan Banerjee: a review

In the midst of all the light and extreme breathtaking books that you might read on a daily basis, this sparkling debut by Sayan Banerjee titled Amidst the Whirlwind is something that will take you aback. To begin with, the cover dutifully done in black enhances the whole feel of the book which makes it all the more tempting to pick it up. The back cover says a lot about the book but don't just keep it at that. Read on to find out…

About the book- Trapped in the labyrinth of the 21st century, this novella is an expression of the underlying conflict of the social, emotional, and the carnal turmoil of the narrator. Surfing through the waves of morality, immorality, helplessness, the narrator with journalism as his surfboard takes us through an enthralling, nail biting and emotional roller-coaster ride that is bound to raise the heartbeat of the audience just a bit more. The whirlwind inside our minds confront us every now and then and we are trying to cope with our existential crisis. The embedded emotions, realisations and the conflict that the narrator experiences is an apt metaphor of the current modern world…

Having got the opportunity to read this book before it's release (and yes, it's released now) this book made me sit and think. The book is set in Kolkata and that made me relate to the book even more. I loved the way the blurb itself caught my eyes enough to pick this one book. The way the blurb has been written carefully showcases the writing style of the journalist that the author is.
Starting with the characters of the book, I loved the way the author has sketched the characters. The graph of every character was properly shown and that is commendable for a debut author. The story is free flowing and never looks clumsy. While reading the story, as it isn't with many authors these days, you as a reader could very well imagine the scenario and feel as if you're a part of what's going on in the book. My favorite character has to be Manni!

For the cons of the book I would like to mention the fact that after reading the blurb I had huge expectations out of the author. And I would have to mention that I was a tad bit disappointed with the writing style dripping a notch. Grammatical errors and a few errors here and there set aside, the book was overall a worthy read. Once the book got over I really wanted to know what happens next and that's very important for any author I believe. Since it is a novella, I felt that it should've been a bit more crisp. All that said, this one book is worth the read and it takes aalot to give in such a bold attempt at first go. Commending the writer on the same, I would give it 3.5 out of 5. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Best Couple Ever by Novoneel Chakraborty: a review

With the announcement of the 10th anniversary edition of his debut book, bestselling writer Novoneel Chakraborty also announced his 12th book The Best Couple Ever. Just after the announcement of the book, his readers were baffled as the book mentions three couples (with names typical Novoneel style) contending to the be the Best Couple Ever. This, along with the blurb of the book couldn't have been a better story…

About the book- Do you flaunt your happy moments in the form of filtered photographs on Facebook, Instagram, etc.? Do you and your partner set relationship goals for others on social media? Do you make people jealous of the perfect life you are living? Do you portray yourself as a forever-happy person to your social media followers? Do you think you are a cyber-world aspiration? If no, then chill. If yes, then congrats! You are their next target.

Chakraborty himself is extremely active on social media about his books and his shows and his travel and everything in between. So, what made him write this book? A quick chat with the author revealed it was the strong social message it carries. Novoneel has the power to push me down the cliff and hold me up. That is a reason why I cannot stop myself from starting to read his books the very moment I hold it in my hands for the first time. This book, after all these years, was no different.

The cover of the book was what attracted me to begin with. The answer to the book is there in the cover itself. When I met the characters for the first time, I couldn't help but fall for them. Imagine an over ambitious woman who lives by the money of her husband. Oh wait. Or live in partners? You're already imagining? Let me help you fuel your imagination more. A super wonderful woman and her super wonderful husband. You want more? Imagine the best couple ever. That's Dhriti, Satyam, Kashvi, Parth, Sanisha and Adhik!

And they are not the only ones. In one of the most character books that has been written by the author, this one falls clean and sturdy. From the first page to the last, I couldn't help but keep reading the book even though I was using an extremely new bookmark which I had kept specifically for this one. My favorite of his characters out of this book? He asks. Of course Kshay. I beam! And he knows and only smirks at my answer. The typical Novoneel smirk.

The story revolves around these 3 couples and there's one hidden mystery in the book. The book has it all. Murder. Sex. Thrill. Mystery. Love. Divided into two parts, the second part actually is something that the author has written for the first time. And as for a first attempt, this is brilliant. I would want the author to write more like the second part of the book. The seamless transition of one story to another and how these three stories merge at one deserves a standing ovation. In also a very typical Novoneel way, he leads on to make the readers think something while the end is something completely different. I love how the author controls the minds of his readers. A feat not many can achieve.  

“One of those things you say!” - you might tell me after reading this review (and trust me! God! You NEED to read this book NOW to find out what I mean by the above line). Ashwamedha has been a role model throughout the book and by the end of the book you'll also consider him as one. One of the best parts about the book is that by the end of the book, Novoneel explains why the book was written and what the book actually means. This doesn't mean you'll read the last page first.

Having read and reviewed all his previous 11 books till date, after reading this I realized that this was what I was talking about all these years. This book is the reason why I adore his writing style and everything in his books but have always refrained from giving full marks. This one has everything I've always wanted from a Novoneel book and I will be so discriminating if I hold back the full marks now. This one's to a mind blowing book, a wonderful plot and stupendofantabulousticallyfantastic characters. This one's 5 on 5! 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Hot Toddy by TC Collins: a review

Oh freak! Why did this book end at where it did? Hot Toddy, T.C Collins’s first novel is a narration about LJ and her life. The ups and downs of it. The book has a lot of sex but doesn't that come with the part and parcel of Hollywood? The book had me at first go when I saw the cover. But this book is much beyond sex, Hollywood, the flashy lifestyle.

About the book- Growing up in the heartland of America, LJ didn't learn what the world was really like outside the boundaries of her family farm until she left for college in southern California. She immediately falls head over heels in love with a hot surfer and his sun and surf laid back lifestyle. She picks up modelling and acting gigs to pay down her student loans. After a few unbearable twists of fate, LJ abandons her Midwestern values for the temptations of Hollywood- and that's only the beginning. Caught in the pressure of balancing a lie and reality, and with her seemingly new best friend, Sidney, becoming more viperous at every turn, LJ can no longer escape the fall down the rabbit hole into a dark world of money and power, where sex sells and everything is for sale. Hot Toddy is for every woman who's ever let her foolishness consume her. Part naughty thrill ride, and part serious on coming of age in a time when wealth and celebrity seem to be the only things that matter, Hot Toddy promises to be this Summer’s best read, with belly laughs, engaging women characters, and an unexpected finale that will leave you wanting more.

As I went on to read the book after reading the blurb I kept on wondering what can happen at the end which will leave me wanting more. Well, the answer to that I received and it got me as a reaction to my first line I wrote here. Oh Freak! The book introduces us to LJ, Brody, Sidney and Naomi. The characters whom you love, hate, live throughout the journey of the 329 pages of the book.

The characters are super well written and you feel instantly connected to them. I, for instance, connected the most to LJ because that's how I am. In the situations she faces, I would have behaved the exact same way she did. And I hated Sidney but loved their girl bond. There are parties, drugs, booze and everything a hollywood lifestyle demands in the book. You feel LJ’s journey. Every character got a proper start and a proper end to it which I commend the writer for. Especially since it's her first book.

Coming to the story, the book was a fun ride which left me thinking at a lot of places. Picking up a novel of this genre was easy but justifying what we write is difficult. The writer did a great job with that. At times, as a reader, I wanted to slap sense into some characters. And that's also something that counts as the achievements of the writer. Loved the narration style and the elements underlying in the book. And trust me, you'll have to read the book to find out what exactly am I saying.

If I have to speak of the cons then the first thing I will have to mention is that the book is a very long read. Even though breezy, by the time you reach the end of the book and knowing the end you would wonder that the prior informations and the scenes that were mentioned in a lot of detail were unnecessary. A few scenes could've been skipped or if not skipped then written in a lesser detail. Some characters I believe, should've had a bit more space in the book to make them all the more worthwhile. But having said all of that, you know what's worthwhile!? Waiting for the next part of the book. This one for me was 4 out of 5 and I'm definitely waiting to know more about what happens with LJ next...

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: a review

The tagline of Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient says, “She wanted to learn how to be seductive. He taught her so much more” and trust me when I say this, the whole book is so much more than just what the tagline has to offer. Appearances can be deceptive, there's no two ways about it and this book with different covers for different regions, justifies what the title says and surpasses the expectations of the readers by miles.

About the book- It's high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband- or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger's. Analyzing Data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one on one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend. Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he's tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal. The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

Helmed at a spot at cosmopolitan's 33 books to get excited about in 2018, this book is delightful. To begin with, I love the cover of the book that I have and also all the other covers of the book that I have seen out there. Next, the way the blurb has been written has my heart. The third thing that attracted me to the book was the whole concept of it. An econometrician having Asperger's hiring male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend, the whole concept seemed unique.

Coming to the story, well, there is sex. A lot of it. But none of it cringeworthy. These are beautiful written lines that one might want to read again. Perfect fit for the underlying romantic theme of the book, I loved the chemistry both of them shared. To the point that there were situations where I wanted to intervene so that they end up being together. Reading the book with a smile on my face, this was one of the sweetest romantic books I've read in a long time now.

Talking about the concept I will have to mention this that dealing with the main protagonist having Asperger's is a very tricky thing. Many people might find flaw in logic and all that comes along with it. The writer, here, I should commend, on not going so utterly deep into the disease yet letting the disease leave it's marks here and there. It is surely a flaw of the protagonist but it isn't something to pity and the author has shown it wonderfully.

If I have to mention the flaws of the book then I'll have to think hard about it. There aren't many flaws that come to face you while reading the book. The narration is nice, concept is different. Overall I liked it. But. There would've been no harm in stretching a few characters or cutting short a few ones. The family, I believe, should've been talked about more. Teeny weeny details trust me. Because the book is wonderful. Looking forward to reading more from the author, here's 4.75 out of 5 from me. 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Sniper's Eye by Mainak Dhar: a review

15th September 2016 : that was the day when I wrote a review for Mainak Dhar’s 03:02 and it is 13th September 2018 today when I write for the same author's latest. To begin with, I loved the precision with which he writes. Such coincidences are hard to find. Next, just as I received this book, I HAD TO go back to my bookshelf comprising of more than a thousand books now and find 03:02 and I smiled and flipped through the now yellowed pages of the black beauty back then. Why I mention this? Because, Mainak Dhar’s Sniper's Eye brought back a lot of memories.

About the book- I was out on a date. Everything was perfect… Till that shot .. a high-calibre one, no apparent sound. And, the man in front of me fell. A rifle with a suppressor? A sniper in the middle of a Mumbai mall? As the body count mounted, I was soon sucked deeper into the chaos unleashed by that shot. To survive and save those whom I care about, I have to become the man I left behind. I have no choice but to tap into a bloody past that has put me on the terror kill list. I may also have no option but to join hands with the sniper terrorizing Mumbai. The problem is that the man has sworn to kill me. In a world where the young and poop kill and die in conflicts started by the old and rich, I and my unlikely companion finally discover the thin line that separates a mere killer from a hero. This is our story…

I don't think I have mentioned this earlier but I really am fond of the way the author ends his blurbs with “this is our story”. After sitting for unputdownable 3 hours of the book, I remember the satisfaction I had felt when I had finished the earlier one and now this one remains the same. I smiled and that made me proud of the book. Proud of the fact that the author has managed to keep this consistency over the years. This book was a smaller one to the other, if compared but then, a different story made it all the more worth it.

The protagonist, Aaditya Ghosh instantly became a favorite and I have no clue why I could feel at ease with the character as if I've been knowing him for quite some time now. Also, Aman is someone I know I will remember forever. Set against the backdrop of India Pakistan relationship and politics and power play at the helm, the book was a smooth ride for me. Narration skills on point, as usual, I could visualize every single point of the book quite efficiently. Every character got their closure by the end of the book and the promise of return of a few characters in the next book of the series (oh yes it's a series) made me hopeful for an even better book coming up.

For the cons of the book, well, again as usual, there weren't any. The book was quick and crisp and gave only the information that the book was supposed to give making it a smooth ride, as I have already mentioned. The only critic I had for the book was that, it ended too soon. A few places here and there I wondered what if there was more written in the book? Also, given that I had read 03:02 and loved the cover, this book's cover didn't allure me so much. The cover, if made a tad bit more better, would've done the trick. This goes for 4.5 out of 5 for me, looking forward to the next book of the series. 

Note: This book was sent to me by Writer's Melon in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Hope and Sunshine by Debasmita Nath Ghosh: a review

When there's love there is hope. When there's hope there has to be sunshine. And only my closest people would know that I'm saying this from a very personal perspective. Debasmita Nath Ghosh’s debut work, Hope and Sunshine made me go back to a lot of memories. The cover is bright and chirpy and it attracts the readers to the book.

About the book- Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long-distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it's a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted? Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. 'Hop’e on!’

As you might have realized from reading the blurb of the book, this is a happy go lucky story. Or is it? To begin with, I loved the characters. Naina, Arjun, Aditya, Ved. My favorite though, has to be Arjun. His protectiveness for his sister and love for his friend is something that every person should achieve. What makes me love the characters is that the author has sketched them very well. You would feel a part of the story through the character graph throughout the book.

Coming to the story. Well, for a one time read was a very sweet story. I, being an avid reader could guess what's coming and how this book is going to end. But having said that, I would like to commend the writer for weaving out such a story in a beautiful way. I finished this book in 3 hours flat and didn't move an inch while I was reading it. This, should be self explanatory.

I love the books where the title is explained in the story. What I mean is, why this book is titled hope and sunshine is mentioned in the book and that makes me happy. I liked the way the author has written the whole book but I'd like to point out a few flaws. To begin with, there were grammar errors and I expected a bit more crispness in the story. At places, I missed a few details here and there which could've made the scenes more vibrant. I could relate to the book in more ways than one and that is why, probably, this book would remain special. All in all, a sweet debut in the form of this book gets 3.5 out of 5 for me. 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

For the love of Harry by Courtenay Merchant: a review

If there's something that attracts me to a book at first go, after the cover then it has to be the content of the book. When I read a few reviews of Courtenay Merchant’s For the Love of Harry and I saw it is about a father and a son, how could I have missed reading it? Reading it, though, proved to be a very good decision of my life.

About the book- We have all done things we regret, but what if we are responsible for something, we know we could never recover from? How do we and those whose lives that are so brutally invaded, survive such needless and senseless change? For some it is impossible, for others, they just have to live. John Shaw is a single father with a secret, a secret steeped in guilt, which he’s forced to remember every day. Gary Cole is a young successful IT engineer from humble beginnings with the opportunity of a lifetime; one selfish mistake could cost him everything. Having already suffered so much, John loses the only thing that keeps him in touch with reality and life itself. No matter how hard his friends try, John struggles to find a way back.
Gary Cole must start again, but how do you come back from this, how do you live with yourself? Every ounce of his fatherly devotion becomes the unending source of John’s desire for revenge, as he grips obsessively to an irrational memory that he carries with him tirelessly in the physical world. John knows full well his desperate need for revenge could end his very existence. Will he see it through to the end? Can he see it through to the end? Or will a chance encounter help John find a way to put the past behind him? As John and Gary’s worlds collide, can forgiveness ever be an option?

Fathers are the most precious thing that can happen to any child and I can say this in written. Mothers surely give birth but fathers keep both the mother and the child going. Every father can do anything and everything for his children. John Shaw was no different. When I started reading the book there were too many characters to process and it took me a bit of a time to hold on to the character names and getting a complete picture of the situation.

But when I did, there was no looking back. The writing style of the author is such that the incidents of the book remain etched on your mind for a very long time. You can visualize every single thing in the book. The narration was on point and that made this 190 pages book a very smooth read for me. Even now if I close my eyes, I can visualize the scenes from the book.

That set aside, I loved how this book was conceived. The whole idea of the book. How far can a father go when it comes to his child? The topic is a very close to my heart topic and I could feel every ounce of pain felt by John. Having said that, Gary Cole was a character I sympathized with. Ho, after all, can you live your life with the torment of doing something irreversible?

I love the characters of the book and my favorite was Richard (for reasons you would know when you read the book). If I have to speak of the cons of it, I feel that the beginning could've been a bit stronger and the end was a bit predictable for me. For all those moments where I had a lump in my throat while reading this book, looking forward to more from the author, I would give this one 4 out of 5. 

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Music Diaries: Som & Mates at What'sUp Cafe LIVE

It's the city of joy and what better to rub off your midweek musings than a beautiful evening spread across the 6th floor of a Southern Avenue building, with a rooftop view and a live Bollywood musical band. Alcohol, breeze, a cloudy but full moon, friends and loved ones for company surely makes it all the more enchanting.

29th August 2018 saw such an evening for What's Up Cafe at Southern avenue where the stage was set by city based band, Som & Mates.

Som & Mates © Antaheen Partha

Som & Mates is currently a 4 member band with members who excel in what they're doing for the past n number of years. Imagine a mix and match of guitar, flute, keyboard, percussions and soft romantic songs for company.

Soumya Ghosh © Antaheen Partha

The frontman of the band, on vocals Soumya Ghosh (erstwhile band Inferno fame and the Som to his mates) was on fire. He let his hair loose (and quite literally at that) to make the audience croon melodies such as Guncha Koi, Chhu Kar mere man ko, Bhindeshi Tara etc…

Saptarshi Roy © Antaheen Partha

On Keyboard was Saptarshi Roy (Sappy, for people who know him) whose expertise over the keys that he has honed with his knowledge won many hearts. Him, making a comeback after all these years of rigorous practicing and in such a great form made every music lover happy.

Ayan Mukherjee © Antaheen Partha

The guitar and flute was helmed by Ayan Mukherjee. The introvert but the most interesting of the lot, he made sure that with every note of the flute every single person in the audience lets out an audible sigh of nostalgia and a connection with the roots we are losing with time.

Kingshuk Chakraborty © Antaheen Partha
Kingshuk Chakraborty (aka Pickloo of Parashpathar and Sahar fame) took charge of the percussions. Dare I say he nailed it? In a note of a thoughtful gesture remembering Paraspathar for what it was, the band performed the infamous, Icchedana and I saw everyone with their eyes closed, singing out loud and him being in his zone. Getting the loudest woots for his percussions.

Having said all that, the biggest achievement of the band for the day was when, after a non-stop hour and a half when the band wanted a small break, no one in the audience wanted them to have one. Requests after requests followed and the break never came till the time the band promised to be back in 5 short minutes. The night ended with a beautiful medley at 11pm but the crowd didn't want to disperse. Such, is the beauty of Kolkata and Som & Mates.

Som & Mates LIVE © Antaheen Partha

The backbones of this band, credited duly, has to be Tanushree Goswami and Abhirup Sen who work day and night for the love of music and with the thought of celebrating life through it. Without whom and I quote the band members here, “Som & Mates would've been nothing!”

Antaheen Partha, their official photographer, deserves a hearty and singular highlight for being the one reason that we all can cherish the evening and much more to come from them through his pictures. All the pictures mentioned here are shot by this man who, I have seen, have legit hung through staircases in uncomfortable positions to get that one special shot that we all take to heart.

Here’s wishing Som & Mates all the love in the universe. Thanking them, for a wonderful and well curated set and evening that we all witnessed. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Into the Great Heart by Kamla K Kapur: a review

In the whirlwind of what life is all about these days, how many of us do have enough time in our lives to sit back and relax and find the time to read a good book on spiritualism? Let alone spiritualism, how many of us get the time to even wonder how the “God” we bow down to, became what they are? That's where Kamla K Kapur’s Into the great heart comes in the picture.

About the book- Legends and Adventures of Guru Angad the second Sikh Guru. From the bestselling author of Classic Tales from Mystic India, The Singing Guru and Rumi: Tales to Live By, comes the second book in the Sikh saga series about Bhai Lehna’s journey from being Guru Nanak’s constant disciple to becoming Guru Angad (1504 – 1552), his successor and the second Sikh Guru. Into the Great Heart carries forward and concludes the stories of Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana, his favourite minstrel, from the first volume of the Sikh saga, The Singing Guru. History, legend and fiction merge to populate this book with fascinating personalities from Sikh history. Pivotal to this narrative are forgotten female luminaries such as Guru Nanak’s wife, Mata Sulakhni, his sister, Bebe Nanaki, Bhai Lehna’s wife, Khivi and daughter Amro. Brought to the foreground, their wisdom and insights as they overcome obstacles to spiritual growth embody the basic tenets of Sikhism in everyday living. They enhance Guru Nanak and Bhai Lehna’s tale with their diverse approach to life. Filled with captivating characters that enrich the tapestry of this compelling narrative, Into the Great Heart is a must-read for anyone who loves a rich story about human nature in its search for spiritual awareness.

Taken from the author's first book in the Sikh Saga, this story continues Bhai Lehna’s journey from being what he was to being Guru Angad, the second Sikh Guru. What I loved about the book has to begin with the cover. For I, personally, have always been a constant lover of the religion and have always wanted to know more about it, the cover of the book gave me a sense of peace that the rusty covers these days don't usually give me.

One of the best parts of the book is the fact that even though it is a second installment of the book, it reads like a standalone novel which is not so much found in the other series as such. The narration that the author has used took me aback because such wonderful narration is often not found in other books. The story went on seamlessly and for a moment I couldn't take my eyes off the book because it had that blinding effect on me. Every single page has notes at the end of it explaining the terms and terminologies for the people who would not understand it.

There's nothing to talk about the characters, though because real life characters are a different tangent all together. I'm not too adept to decipher it is a real story of parts of it is fictional or not but even if I were, I know that I had gone deep into the story and I couldn't fathom when did I start being one with the story. So, that deserves a standing ovation from me. For the cons, the story was a bit lengthy for me and that's all I can say. This one book deserves 4.5 out of 5 from me. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Invisible Ties by Nadya AR: a review

There are books that leave you dumbstruck while there are some books that leave you speechless. This book left me with a feeling that is indescribable. It's been a few hours I finished the book and only now could I make myself write even a word for the book. Today, as Nadya AR’s second book has it's 1st anniversary, I couldn't help but write what I felt about Invisible Ties…

About the book- As Karachi burned in the 1990s, the painfully shy Noor Kamal found refuge in an antique jade mirror stolen from Daisy, her social butterfly mother. One fateful day, the violence hits home as a motley crew of burglars storm the Kamal residence, killing Joseph, the faithful driver who tried to shield Noor and kidnapping Daisy in the process. Traumatized by the turn of events and succumbing to familial pressure, Noor reluctantly agrees to start life afresh in Singapore as the wife of Meekaal Kalim, an investment banker. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Noor finds succour in studying psychotherapy. Her attempt to heal others brings her close to Ella, her neighbour and Jake, a handsome American who is struggling to deal with his emotional breakdown. As she tries to exorcise ghosts from the past and break free from the shackles, where will Noor’s longing for love take her? Would she be able to liberate herself from her strong cultural values and ties? A saga of love and trials, against a rich contrasting background, Invisible Ties is sure to appeal to the readers.

To begin with, I am in love with the cover of the book. This book surely falls under my top 5 favorite book covers of the year. Also, the handmade paper'ish feel that the book jacket has, makes me fall for the book all over again. The blurb speaks a tonne about the book but it surely does injustice to what the whole book is about. There are very few authors or books read by me who has so distinctively mentioned the intricacies of life in such a wonderful way.

Based in Karachi and then, Singapore the book traces the life of Noor Kamal and I would be lying if I say that I didn't connect to the character. I found a piece of me in Noor, also because I want to learn psychotherapy and I love talking to people and helping them in their lives by counselling them. The other characters in the book were Noor’s parents, husband, aunt and her mother in law apart from her friends, maid and driver. Well, the book has a character for everyone. My next favorite characters has to be her mother in law, Jake and Ella.

Talking about the writing style of the author, this book took me by surprise. To readers like us who are habituated in reading on a regular basis lightly written monologues and write ups, this was a heavy read. Not heavy in words but heavy in emotions and narration skills. The subtle way through which the author has described everything brings to me, as a reader, a relief that I'll probably not be able to explain through my review out here.

I remember certain points in the book that felt oddly familiar with my life and certain places where I felt the tear at the back of my throat and mind you! This doesn't happen all the time with me. The way the author has handled the whole book and the heaviness of it is a mammoth task and she deserves all the accolades that is possible for me to give. The only con that I felt about the book is the fact that it is not for everyone. The book will not be liked for the YA audience or the light readers for a quick read. You need to savor this book and understand every page of it. Only then, the Jade mirror will talk to you! Following this one, I guess I'll love to read the author's future and past works too. For me, this one's a 4.8 out of 5.