Monday, November 17, 2014

Private India

In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.
For Santosh Wagh, head of private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.
In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest ganglord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.
And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing private India. Hidden in the shadows, someone who could destroy the whole organization – along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens.
Raumali Says:
I have always been a fan of mystery novels, so couldn’t resist when Blogadda gave the opportunity to review one. I have read Ashwin Sanghi’s novels before and have liked them. James Patterson, is altogether a new author for me. So before I read this book, I decided to do some research first. What I found was Private series is a collaboration between Patterson and different authors around the globe. So for Private India, Patterson decided to collaborate with Ashwin Sanghi.

The sheer thrill of reading a murder and mystery keeps me hooked. I remember my school days when I used to sneak a Dan Brown or Agatha Christie novel inside one of my study books in class. I continued that in college too, sitting in the last bench with a nice book while the teacher rattled away. Well, my book reading has taken a back stand since I have entered the corporate field. But my hands started itching when I found Blogadda is giving away mystery books for review. I have read Sanghi’s books before and have reviewed them for Blogadda too. They weren’t spine chilling but were not bad either. So, I was disappointed when this book didn’t meet my expectations. The book made me feel lost. There was no cohesiveness in the characters, and the plot was more or less predictable. It took me a lot of motivation and quite a few mails from Blogadda for me to finish reading this book. (I would have done it if my manager promised me a bonus for reading this book). The font was huge which was a real dampener. The end was disappointing.

Writing is a creative job. The authors make stories in their head and pen them down in such a way so people would read it. Hence I am not very fond of doing a bad review, because it will be like criticizing the way they do their work. I do have some good to tell about this book too.

I read Indian authors because they make me feel connected. The language, the story, the culture, everything is my own. Sanghi’s penchant for mythology comes through some Indian festivals in the plot. The books opens with the murder of a Thai doctor in a Mumbai hotel. It’s a serial killer who places some token of his presence beside each of the dead bodies.

Santosh Wagh, and ex-policeman, who heads private India, and also the protagonist of this tale, gets in charge of this case. Wagh is a compelling if somewhat pitiable character with a troubled past. Wagh has a sharp mind and impeccable powers of reasoning. He also has an inexhaustible fund of trivia that helps him solve mysteries.

The characterization was very precise. The thing I liked most was there were alternate chapters on the murder and something else.

Overall, it’s a okay read. You can go for it, if you have time to spare.

Rating – 3/5

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


TITLE: Ramayana: The Game of Life – Rise Of The Sun Prince

AUTHOR: Shubha Vilas

PUBLISHER: Jaico Books

ISBN: 978-81-8495-530-9

GENRE: Folklore/Fantasy

PAGES: 252

SOURCE: BlogAdda

RATING: 4.5/5

Epics like the Ramayana have been recounted infinite times. Is there a need for another chronicle in the presence of so many? How is this one different? And is it relevant to our ever changing modern lives?

Yes, there is a need; yes, this is different; and yes, it is most relevant! This new series of books, each following one volume of the original Ramayana, decodes the eternal wisdom of that poetic scripture through gripping narrative and thought-provoking instruction. In the time-honoured custom of spreading wisdom through tales, every fascinating story in the epic is retold here and every character unfolded to captivate your heart and open your mind to life’s deepest questions.

The narrative closely follows Valmiki’s Ramayana, gently weaving in folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana. The first of this six-volume series, Rise of the Sun Prince, takes you through the divine story of Lord Rama from His birth upto his marriage.

Through these pages are revealed the tales of Dasaratha’s leadership, Vishwamitra’s quest for power and the intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden, Ramayana: The Game of Life has all of this and much more- food for contemporary thought drawn from an enduring masterpiece.

I am always been a huge fan of Indian mythology and this book has become one of my favourites.

The Rise of the Sun Prince by Shubha Vilas is essentially the part one (Bala Kanda) of the Indian scripture Ramayana as written by the sage Valmiki, mixed with a few anecdotes and embellishmens from the Kamba Ramayana (another version of the sacred text).

The book is simple yet elaborate, the story is decomposed just enough for the casual reader to understand and yet it is sophisticated enough to prevent itself from being turned into another soulless recital.

The saga of Ramayana was written by Valmiki and the current volume – The Rise of the Sun Prince takes its readers through the birth and pre-birth era of Rama to the marriage of Lord Rama with Sita. 

The book tells the purpose of Ramayana in a very simplified manner.

The book is written very simply yet the narration is very exciting and perfect. Shubha Vilas has led us through various aspects of Lord Rama’s birth, his journey with Lakshmana and Vishwamitra and his respect for elders. Through these pages, the tales of Dasarathas leadership, Vishwamitras quest for power and the intriguing story of a little known stone maiden are revealed.

Shubha Vilas has beautifully penned down the mythological story of Ramayana and lucidly described the various characters.

Overall this book is a good read. I would definitely recommend this book.

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Hunt For kohinoor - Book Review

ISBN: 978-93-83260-60-7
PAGES: 425
RATING: 4.5/5

BACK COVER SAYS: A spine-chilling ninety-six hour hunt through the world's most dangerous terrain where history collides with gunfire – will Mehrunisa get out of this one alive?
One morning on her way to work, Mehrunisa gets a call that will change her life forever. The truth about her missing father is at her fingertips – but it will take her on the most desperate chase of her lifetime.
A chase that will pit her against hardened jihadis plotting the deadliest terror attack on India, that will test her mettle against history's deep secrets, that will teach her that the price of love can mean bloodied hands...
The Hunt For Kohinoor hurtles from icy Kashmir to snow-clad Hindukush, from the sinister corridors of a military hospital to the warrens of Peshawar, even as the clock counts down to the impending catastrophe.

Thanks to Westland Ltd. For giving me the opportunity to review this book. I must say this was the fastest 425 pages book I ever read- took me around 3 hours. The description is very simple yet crisp and vivid. I could feel the events unfolding in front of my eyes as I kept turning the pages.

This is the first book of Manreet Sodhi Someshwar I have read and I am really amazed by the amount of research she puts into her work. The book was a sweet and sour experience for me. Sour, because I have read a lot of thrillers before and I didn't feel completely satisfied with this one. It was kind of a 99 out of 100 for me. Sweet because I am always a fan of Indian authors' book and this one kept me hooked to it for an entire 3 hours until I finished it. I really loved the narration, the plot and was amazed by the hard work 
Manreet Sodhi Someshwar has put into it.

The Hunt For Kohinoor is the book two of the thriller series featuring Mehrunisa Khosa. The first book of the series is The Taj Conspiracy. The story begins with parallel tracks featuring the lives of the protagonists of the tale and later it is shown how it all combines as one. The story revolves around Mehrunisa's ninety-six hour chase through India, Pakistan and the AFPAK border with her own life, people she loves, and thousands of more at stake.

This is a different kind of thriller than what I have read before. The characterization is very real specially the transformation of Mehrunisa from a historian to a spy on a special mission of national importance. It is deftly shown in the book how Mehrunisa is used for national security. I really loved the fact that the theme of the book didn't deviate from a thriller to a love story even though I thought it might be.

The book is a light read, and the suspense is intriguing. I can definitely say this is one more book which increases my love for Indian Authors. I would definitely recommend this book to all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Other Side of Me- Part 2

Read Part 1 first...

I landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport today morning at 8. It was a bit chilly outside the airport. I tightened the scarf around my neck, and extended my left hand out to stop the next cab.

-“Delhi Institute of Engineering”, I told the driver with an inquisitive eye.

Before getting into the car, I felt my left pocket to see if the pepper spray was in place and easily accessible if required.

Priya knows about my yearly visits to Delhi, though I have never talked to Nitin or anyone else about these before.  I remembered that I had forgotten to mention Priya about my visit this year, though I knew she couldn’t be any less supportive. The last time I saw her was when I stormed out on her four days ago. I made a mental note to patch things up with her once I got back. After all, she was another half of me. We were like peas in a pod, two bodies but one soul.

The cab stopped in front of the institute main gate. I paid the driver the fare, gave him a little tip and said him thank you. I took my bag pack over my shoulder and took a little sip from my water bottle and placed it back in the side compartment of the bag. I looked at the signboard on top of the main gate, took a deep breath , and placed my foot inside.

Ten minutes later, I stood leaning at the gate of the cafeteria, my eyes on the table at the farthest corner. He was sitting there, as usual alone with his Kulhar of hot Chai on the table. As usual he was just staring at it, biting his lips, deep in thought.  Few seconds later, he looked up and I realised he had spotted me. He waved his hand.

-“Hey”, I doubt whether my voice had reached till there, I could barely hear myself. My lips were pressed tight.

He got up from his chair and slowly came towards me. After staring a few seconds at me, he hugged me. It was a strong but gentle hug. I felt a chill down my spine.  I hugged him tight and closed my eyes. Well, just looking at him brings back a vast array of memories.  George is the only person who knows me best, even more than Priya or Nitin does.  He is the only person, who knows who I really am and I can be completely myself with him.

-“So, you still are in Delhi?” I asked him, my right hand on his left bicep, my voice now barely a whisper.  I asked him, though I knew the answer.

-“My brother is here.” He said. I could feel the pain in his voice. He held my left hand tight.

-“You know you don’t have to do this.” I was staring at our hands, tightly held together. I couldn’t make up the courage to look at his eyes.

-“I do. My brother is here.  Even though I am only a minute older than Tom is, still that makes me the older sibling. I need to take care of him.” His voice was much louder now.

-“No you don’t. You need to get out of here and get a life.” I could feel my eyes welling up.

-“If you think so, why do you keep coming back here?” I could feel his eyes on me now.

I freed my hand from his. Taking a deep breath in, I said, “This is my place. This city, this college, this place and I have a history. I left my soul here”

The conversation was going nowhere

-“Shall we go?”George asked.

I nodded.

He put his hand gently on my shoulder as we walked till the main gate in silence. His car was parked there.  He held open the passenger door for me.

-“Thanks”, I said as I got inside.

In a few minutes we were on the highway. It was chilly outside but I still didn’t feel like closing my side of the window. I wanted to look outside and take in as much of the sight, as much of the air outside.

As the forests on the side started getting denser, I could feel my hand on his left hand which was controlling the gear. My grip was getting tighter. Tears started coming in my eyes as I looked outside.

Eight Years earlier... 19th November

-“You know you are a pretty romantic boyfriend. Giving your girl the first ride in your car”, I smiled; my teeth all out as I looked at him driving calmly.

-“Yeah, a special girl like mine deserves some royal treatment.”

I folded my arms around his left arm and placed my head on his shoulder.

It was 10 pm and we were returning after watching Pride and Prejudice. I remember every little detail of the night very clearly.

-“You know I envy you. You are so lucky, getting a car from your parents on your birthday” I sneered at him romantically.

-“Well, my brother and I are supposed to share it. And it’s more like getting into college gift rather than a birthday gift. My parents always thought we were not even smart enough to become waiters” He laughed loudly.

I loved that childish laugh on his face.

As we neared the highway, we saw a police checking post far ahead. My hands froze. I am personally not very fond of the police. He must have sensed my dilemma.

-“You ok?” He asked, concerned.

-“I am not particularly very fond of the police. Wherever they go, problems follow them.”

-“You are making me laugh. Don’t worry. Must be some regular check for drunk driving.” He gave a pat on my hand.

I wasn’t sure. As we neared, a policeman signalled us to pullover.

As we stopped he came from behind and knocked on the window glass with his stick. Tom pulled his window down.

-“Girlfriend, Eh? You two where going at this time of the night? Doing hanky panky eh?” The policeman said, leering at me. His mouth stinked.

-“Sir, this is my wife, and Dhanaraj Sharma is my father-in-law. If you want you can talk to him right now”, Tom said in a bold voice as he scrolled through the contact list through his phone. I doubted whether we did really pass off as a married couple.

Whatever he said, had done its job.  The policeman became stiff. “No sir, why disturb big sir at this time of the night? We do some routine checks sir, drunk driving kids, you see sir. Not safe here. You and madam go sir. Sorry sir, for disturbing ”, he blabbered with a smile on his face. I hate that smile.

As we crossed the checking post, We both burst out laughing. I couldn’t control my laughter.

-“Who the hell is Dhanaraj Sharma and how do you know him” I asked Tom.

-“Well he is your dad and since I married you, I know him.” He laughed his patented childish laugh.

I slapped him on his hand, there was a big smile on my face. “No, I mean for real.”

-“Stupid, he is the director of our college. As far as why that guy was scared of him, I have no idea.”

And we both again burst out laughing.  We were on the highway now. As the forests started getting denser, I could hear a screeching sound.

-“What’s that?” I looked at Tom.

-“I don’t know, never heard that before”

Five hundred meters further, our car jerked and stopped suddenly.

-“What happened?” It was getting late and I was worried.

-“Lemme check” Tom said and got out of the car. I went out behind him.

It was getting colder and I could hear some voices nearby, so I told him to hurry up. Tom was handling a car for the first time, so he couldn’t make out what the problem was. The voices were getting closer.

-“Maybe we should see who is coming and ask them for help” Tom said.

-“Okay” I was reluctant and a little scared too.

They were a group of seven men, with bottles in their hand, which I presumed was alcohol.

-“Hey, can you guys help us. There seems to be some problem with the car”, Tom asked one of the guys though I wished he didn’t. They didn’t look like the ones you could trust.

-“Sure buddy!” The biggest one of them said while  pushing Tom aside.

-“Hey!” Tom really gets angry at such bad manners.

My breathing stopped as I could feel the other guys looking at me with hungry eyes, leering at my breasts.

-“What buddy you said something?” They big guy said and taking a big gulp from his bottle threw it aside. 
The bottle landed with a crash on the road. “Look, boys, this guy wants to say something,” He said with a mocking laugh. Tom had sensed the danger at this point, but it was too late.

Three of the guys came towards me, with eyes like a prey, hungry. They  stinked. I wanted to run, but my feet were frozen to the spot. I tried shouting but one of them already had his hand on my mouth.

-“Hey you!” Tom was really angry now. He tried to come and save me from the grip of those savages but there other men had stopped him midway and was shoving him away. I was desperately trying to shout.
They all came over me. I tried to free myself. But they were strong. I could feel my clothes being stripped off. Someone grasped my breasts. It hurt. I didn’t know how many they were. I could hear Tom’s voice in the distance. I tried to fight. But they had pinned me to the ground. They were cowering over me. They were hurting me.  I was scared. It was cold, it was painful. I wanted it to stop. It seemed like eternity. I passed out.

I opened my eyes. I could see no one

I was cold. I was in pain.

I wanted to shout. I couldn’t

I wanted to move. I couldn’t.

I passed out again.

I opened my eyes. I could see someone. No, I couldn’t.

I was cold. I was numb. I couldn’t feel the pain anymore.

I wanted to shout. I couldn’t

I wanted to move. I couldn’t.

I was dying

I opened my eyes.

I was warm.

I could see people in white around me. Then I couldn’t see.

Maybe this was heaven.

I closed my eyes.

I woke up. There was a girl wearing a white uniform standing beside me. She told me she was a nurse and that I was ok. She told me to sleep. I slept.

I opened my eyes. Now I was awake. I could see Tom standing beside me. I tried to speak, I still couldn’t. I wanted to smile at him. I didn’t know whether I did or not. Then I realised it was George. They looked alike, they were twins. Only very close friends can tell the difference. There were friends, and doctors, and police.

A smiling lady doctor came up to me and sat beside me. She asked me how I was feeling. I tried to nod.

-“You were raped. Some people found you and brought you here a week back. You were being assaulted using sharp and blunt objects. Your uterus and intestines were affected. You were suffering from sepsis. We had to operate on you thrice. We are sorry, but we had to remove your uterus to save your life.”

I nodded. I didn’t want to hear anymore.

George shook me out of my thoughts. “We have reached.”

I could feel my eyes wet as I looked from the glass. I didn’t want to get out of the car.

-“Aditi”, George placed his hand on my shoulder.

I got out of the car. We went inside the cemetry.

I kneeled down and placed the flowers on Tom’s grave. 

--------------------------------THE END-----------------------------------------

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Other Side of Me- Part 1

“So finally! You are getting married.” Priya gasped, her eyes opened up wide and glittered as she twirled the diamond ring in my finger.

“Yeah”, I nodded at her, smiling.

“That’s a pretty rock”, she grinned, still fingering the ring.

I smiled and looked at him from across the room. He was sitting with Papa and Bhai at the dining table. They seemed to be having a good time, talking, giggling and laughing out loud. Ma was enthusiastically serving her future son-in-law a variety of her patented and neighborly-praise winning pakoras. It seemed to me as if Nitin looked a little out of place, I had always worried whether he would get well with my family. He was a calm and composed, down-to-earth guy. We, on the other hand believed in living life to the fullest. My Dad always said a good laugh and hearty conversations keeps your heart healthy and brain working optimally.  Nitin stole a quick glance at me  and found me staring at him. He smiled. Priya waved back with a big smile on her face. I smiled and turned my head away.

Nitin was the kind of guy every father would want for his daughter.  He was intelligent, hardworking, successful, and yet so calm and down-to-earth. With me, he sometimes behaved like a kid, and sometimes like a protective grown-up. He loved me, but he respected me more. He held my hand gently yet firmly while crossing the road. He said I looked cute when I was angry because tears trickled down my face and that would make my face swell up and become white. Whenever I felt low, he just sat beside me, so close that his arm touched mine and keep staring at me without speaking a word until I rested my head on his shoulder and then he used to hug me really tight. He jumped in joy on my achievements and kept motivating me. On days it rained, he used to come to my apartment with a movie and a big bar of chocolate and we used to curl up on my sofa and just talk. Most importantly he always stayed- through my different mood swings. He stayed when I was happy, sad, angry and even when I told him to get lost and not talk to me. He didn’t talk much, he talked just the right amount. His eyes spoke for him, his eyes spoke a million words. And each time he stared into my eyes, I knew how much he loved me.

They all talked about us, at office. We met three years ago, he was my senior and a really helpful mentor. Within a month of my joining we became friends and soon enough we started dating. There was something dreamy about his eyes. They said it would never last, romantic relationships are never meant for the workplace. There were uncountable bets on us. My colleagues eyed me differently and cruelly, except for the ones that were my friends. They really supported me through these all. And we emerged from it all. We were the perfect, happy couple at work, the kind you only see in television or read in Nicholas Sparks’ novels.

Nitin was the perfect gentleman. My Dad never thought that a guy would be coming to his house to ask his daughter’s hand for marriage. My Dad always hoped his kids would fall in love and only invite him on their marriage. I was my dad’s princess and the perfect prince was standing at his door.

When my brother and I were kids, I remember my Dad telling us to keep our personal life separate from our professional. Don’t take your bedroom to your office and vice versa. He always believed in the fact that a person and his wife should never work at the same place, as workplace differences may cause personal problems. But Nitin proved him wrong. He was a perfect boss at work and a perfect boyfriend outside office. No matter how much the pressure at work would be, he never took it outside office. It was as if he knew some divine mantra to lead a carefree life. He never let our personal and professional relationship mingle up. Yet whenever I had too much work, he used to stay back with me and only go home after we had dinner and he dropped me off to my apartment making sure I have locked the door properly.

And now here we are, three years later, proving all the people at work that they were wrong. Time has changed them also. They have believed in the miracle of love and here they are wishing us all the luck in the world, blessing us to lead a happy married life.

Priya shook me out of my thoughts. I found her staring and me and smiling.

“You look beautiful.”

“Thank you”, I blushed.

I was wearing the red and green churidar Manish gifted me on my last birthday. He said he saw it on a mannequin on Paree Boutique, which is on his way from home to office, and it strangely reminded him of me. 

He instantly thought I would do more justice to the dress than the lifeless doll would.

“So have you talked to him yet? What did he say?” Priya asked.

“About what?” I  raised my eyebrows as I had no clue what she was talking about.

“You know...” Her eyes were staring directly at mine.

 I knew.

“No” I said got up from the sofa to go to my room. Priya followed me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life is all about taking risks- Random Scribblings

"If you are not scared, you are not taking a chance. And if you are not taking a chance, then what the hell  are you doing?"

Life is unpredictable. We never know what's going to happen in the next second. The future is dark. In the next five minutes, I might be dead, or I might be famous- no one knows. So the best thing to do is concentrate on the moment in hand. We live life one second at a time, and we make plans for the future.

But do those plans always come true? So, I dream of having my own house in the suburbs when I am old. I dream of sitting on the front porch having tea with my husband knowing that my kids are well settled and happy in some part of the world and they still love me. But there is no guarantee that all of it will come true, or worse, none of it might happen. I may not be famous, I might still live in a rented apartment, I may not have a husband or kids or I might be dead. But that doesn't keep me from dreaming. And if we are lucky, we realise, in the face of life, the true dream is being able to dream at all.

Life is all about taking risks. And it starts right from the day we are born. It's a characteristic of our subconscious mind. We try standing up, though we might fall down and get hurt. We try to talk, though the words coming out of our mouth may not make any sense. What if we didn't try then knowing that there are risks. We wouldn't be able to talk or walk today.

We go to school, knowing that it's a place filled with strangers, we might be bullied. We make friends knowing that they may not stick with us till the end. Chances are that they might not be the "my person" one or they might betray us. But we are strong enough to take the risk. We fall in love with a person knowing that he might not be the one. We know he might break our heart but we stick on with a ray of hope. We get married without knowing where it might lead to. What if your guy doesn't remain so supportive after marriage. What if he falls in love with someone and leaves you? Well, none of these stops us. We have kids and hope they will grow up and be established and happy, and that they will take care of you when you are no longer able to take care of yourself. We take these risks without knowing what the final outcome will be.

We never learn from other's mistakes. We have to make our own mistakes. No one is there to tell us what's right and what wrong. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today's possibility under tomorrow's rug, until we can't anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves that knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping, and even the biggest failure, even the worst, beat the hell out of never trying.

We know that some of these chances we take may end up failing us. No matter how hard we fight, we fall. And it's scary as hell. But at the end of the day, the fact that we all have the courage to be still standing is reason enough to celebrate.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I love you Autumn

Autumn is my favourite season. I love autumn. It's not too hot, but it's not too cold either. There is minimal humidity and it's the perfect time of the year to party around. Unlike spring, there's no disease spreading viruses roaming around in the air. I feel it's even the most beautiful season of the year. Oh! The nature's bounty. The hues all around cheer me up. Everything is just perfect.

Here are a few pics I clicked today from our hostel garden. I just couldn't keep myself from praising the beauty of these flowers.

And I just came accross the perfect poem for my perfect season.

 To Autumn
-John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

  Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.