Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book reviews

Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight by Rujuta Diwekar
India’s top celebrity fitness guru has worked with the who's who of Bollywood. Now she lets you in on her secret you can eat anything you want just as long as you plan for it. No crash dieting, no carb deprivation, no unbidden cravings. Rujuta teaches you the three simple steps to dieting heaven: learn about your body, create the right plan for it, and slowly adjust your food habits.

Spouse by Shobha De
How marriages work and why they fail… Marriage is an adventure, says Shobhaa De, celebrity writer, devoted wife and mother of six. It's about trust, companionship, affection and sharing. It's also about learning to cope with your partner's moods and eccentricities. Not to mention the delicate balancing act between parents, children, friends and a career, and the sometimes overpowering need to get away from it all.

The Zahir by Paulo Coelho
I found this book very boring. This is definitely not one of Paulo’s best. My favorites are: Veronika decides to die and The alchemist.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The lost symbol – Dan Brown

5 years ago on one of the Sundays I woke up at 6am to finish school assignment. While having tea I picked up a book I had just bought and started going through a few pages. Next I know it was 10pm on the same day and I had finished reading it… the book was ‘Da vinci Code’ and yes I did have quick lunch and no, I did not finish the assignment.

I started reading ‘the lost symbol’ on a weekday so it took me 3 days to finish it. The story is just awesome. But unlike Dan’s other books there is more mystery than history in this book. There are lot of references from Vedas, Upnishad, Bhagvat Gita to yoga and meditation which are part of Hindu philosophy.

I hope Dan writes a thriller based on Indian history someday.

Nice read!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ghost in your genes...

We get our physical features from our parents. Similarly we acquire our behavior patterns from our parents. There was an interesting experiment that the scientists carried out.

There is a nurturing mother mouse say M1 who takes care of her children really well. There is another mother mouse, say M2, who is non-nurturing and neglects her children after the birth.

M1’s kids turn out to be quiet and well behaved and M2’s kids are nuisance, they bite people and scream and shout in the cage. Scientists placed M2’s newborns in M1’s cage and M1’s newborns in M2’s cage. Guess what? M2’s kids turned out to be quiet and well behaved and M1’s kids – nuisance!

That means all behavior patterns are not dependent on genes a lot relies on nurturing.

There is a small village in Sweden where people always faced famine (this was 100 years ago). Now their grandchildren are scared of even the word ‘famine’. (Though no one has faced famine in recent years) The fear of famine was passed on to the new generation through genes.

You can watch all this and more interesting stories in a documentary called ‘Ghost in your Genes’.

This documentary made me think what if like fear, even knowledge and information is passed through genes? A lot of times we feel ‘oh I have been to this place before’ – déjà vu – is it because some of our ancestors have experienced it in their lifetime? It would really have been great if the knowledge and information was passed on to the next generations through genes!

Nice documentary, you can find it on Google videos.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Race With Time

Time is loping rapidly. I have given up my attempts to make it take a breather. I am trying hard to match my speed with time.

Sometimes I take a quick break and watch time dashing by. Why doesn’t it go slow? How come it is never exhausted? Why doesn’t it just linger for a while? They say to make it big you need to be on your toes continuously. But if we don’t put our feet up how will we observe our contest with time.

I have stopped dreaming to win in my race with time. I start rushing from the time I wake up. I plan the ‘to do’ things for the day during my jog with milliseconds.

In this scuttle I just touch a few places and run and at places I lurk a bit while on run. As if the entire day’s scurry is not enough; my mind starts running at night. It visits different places and people while I am asleep. When my mind gets tired with body, my brain starts its gallop. Recently it wrote articles, poems and plan for the coming days while my body was somnolent.

Time keeps up with its flow but though not tired I stop at times; to absorb the ‘emotions’ related to the happenings during the day… and just to observe their presence in life…

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keys ...

When I go home I lock the door and fling the keys wherever.

When it is time to go out it takes me 5 minutes to get ready and 10 minutes to find the keys. In our frenzied and hectic lives, I think we do the same with our memories. We create different compartments in our mind and keep them filling unconsciously with various memories, experiences, events and feelings. We lock these compartments and let them corrode. In our mechanical and chaotic life it rarely happens that the memories are revived when we are relaxing. Just so that our life doesn’t become too impassive our mind, oblivious to us, hides the keys to all its compartments in distinct places. These keys take us instinctively to the past memories. You might have experienced this…

Gentle breeze comes from somewhere and leaves by opening one of the compartments of our mind. And then the mind takes off and circles around the similar kind of breeze experienced in the past.

Mind also conceals some keys in various odors. The scent of earth after the rain might take you to the woods of your hometown.
One key is buried in the sense of touch. Touch of the blanket made from my mother’s Saree still makes me feel her warmth.

Sometimes the keys are in different sounds. If we listen to even the sound of a swirling sea then the next moment we might find ourselves lying on the beaches or spinning in the waves of Konkan / Goa (might be Hawaii for you). At times you listen to a familiar song and immediately locate yourself dancing in a concert.

And at times the keys are masked in various names. If you read/ hear one of it then it instantly opens the locks and fetches the memories related to it – pleasant, ghastly, wounding, insulting, gracious…

One of the names may perhaps embrace the ‘master key’ and it stirs up all the memories.

And in the middle of all this suddenly we become conscious of the reality. We grab our running mind, gather the cluttered memories, lock them in the compartments and fling the keys!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebration of colors

Watercolors - what an unpredictable behavior. When mixed with water and applied on a paper their gait is revolutionized. You can not exactly know where they are going to spread. That is the reason they are most difficult and challenging to paint and providing with a feeling of achievement when completed.

Acrylics - They are glued wherever applied. They have a straightforward attitude and look really rich.

Oil colors - thick, beautiful and attractive. They do not dry for days. I find them adjusting because I can modify them until they dry and also keep on adding layers on them when they dry.

Charcoal colors - They look rustic. They go with rudimentary drawings. These smooth colors which bestow rough texture snub to mix with other charcoal colors. They express their anguish on the paper if tried to mix.

Every painting technique has an uniqueness and similarly every color has its own individuality. Every color has some comrades and a few foes. When the friends are juxtaposed they make each other appear charming. When two enemies are put side by side they don't just make their own manifestation dull but also spoil the others appearance.

For a painting to look pleasant it is important for the friends to be next to each other. A painting doesn't look delightful if it is ruled by just one color. Every showpiece loses it's own identity if the room is occupied by several other showpieces with the same color. Faint yellow sandals would look smart if you are wearing a sky blue frock, both will then have their own intrepid, bold guise.

Think about people, are they just black and white? They have different colors and shades of those colors in them. Those colors and their shades are revealed based on the situations, sometimes dark sometimes faint.

Life is a celebration of colors. It is as vibrant as any colorful painting.There are white dull moments and so we enjoy the blue serene instances. There are black gloomy occurrences and so we wait for the green joyful occasions.

I pray to the creator of this colorful painting called life that please don't paint my personality with lone color, don't let just any single color to overpower my life. Give me some experiences which are rudimentary and rustic like charcoal. Let some events be like oil colors, adjusting but beautiful. Some be like acrylics - straightforward and rich. Bequeath a few happenings like watercolors - unpredictable and challenging!


Do we like different creations of nature based on the state of our mind?
Sometimes ruffled look of a waterfall brings tears in my eyes, makes me feel peaceful and at times the same bustling look of the waterfall makes me perturbed.

Just a glance at a lake makes me feel serene, green color of the trees makes my mind feel relaxed. At times I travel distances just to get a glimpse of this splendor and at times I pass by lakes and trees and do not even bother to take a peek at it. Why does the disquiet or the passive form of nature makes us feel blissful or dejected?

Water of an aroused river but I can't swim
Green are the moutains but I can not loll on it
Clear blue skies invite me and I can't fly!

At times I think what is the meaning of life and then I come across some exuberant sight of nature. That makes me feel life is beautiful and is definitely worth living...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Washington Hikes: Part I

Snow Lake
It is probably one of the best hikes I have done so far. Snow Lake is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and is drop-dead gorgeous. Cliffs rise to Chair Peak on one side of the lake. The other side is forested where the terrain drops abruptly to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley. It is a photographer’s dream.
Distance: around 4 miles one-way
Beginning Elevation : 3100 feet
Ending Elevation: 4100 feet
Difficulty level: Difficult

Lake Ozzete trail
This is a fascinating, picturesque walk. One of my favorite trails. It's a long trip from Seattle, about 120 miles plus a ferry ride, all of which can take 5 hours or more. Trail starts in a forest and ends at coast 9 mile loop, insignificant elevation change.

Boulder River Trail
This is an awesome trail. At 1.2 miles there are a series of cascades and waterfalls seen across Boulder River on the opposite bank. Just the drive to Darrington, Arlington is superb.
Getting There:
From Darrington, Take Hwy. #530 west for 8.2 miles to mile post #41. Turn left onto #2010. At 0.9 mile the road passes the campground. At the fork, continue on the road to the right for 2.8 miles. Where the road switchbacks sharply up the hill, the trailhead road continues straight ahead. This road is not passable for vehicles, so park at road beginning off Road #2010.
Elevation: 1400 feet, length: 4 miles

Mount Little Si

Elevation: Gain of 1,200 feet
Length: 4.4 miles out and back - about 2.5 hours with limited stops
Be prepared to arrive very early on weekends to avoid the crowds.
Getting There - Take I-90 East to Exit 32 (436th Street) and turn left. Upon reaching North Bend Way, turn left -- then right on Mount Si road. After about a mile, the main trailhead is located on the left.
This site is also famous for rock climbing.

Wallace Falls:
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass – East

Lower Wallace Falls is at 1.8 miles on the hiking trail and has a picnic shelter. Middle Falls is at 2.1 miles, and Upper at 2.75 miles.
Elevation gain: 1,200 feet.

Chirico trail
Described as "moderate," this hike was actually quite difficult for me. But somehow, I found it in me to keep on going to the top. If you go on a clear day then you can get an awesome view of Puget Sound – from the Poo Poo Point. This area is also famous for paragliding.
Getting There:
From Seattle, east on I-90 to exit 17, Front Street. Turn right off the freeway and travel 2.8 miles to the gravel parking area on the left. The trailhead is across the field.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter

Why every person from all age groups including my father likes children's book Harry Potter... I always had this question.

It was answered when I watched all Harry Potter movies. After watching half blood prince I just could not wait for another 2 years for the last part of the movie to be released. I was too curious to know the ending. So I started reading last part of Harry Potter - deathly hallows (with 800 pages). I thought it will take me months to finish it but to my surprise I finished it in 2 weeks because I just couldn’t stop reading…
Then I understood why people would wait in lines to grab the book on the first day of book release and regretted for calling them crazy.

J.K. Rowling has a startling writing style, splendid imagination. In the world of imagination she could have very well crossed the line and made it gory like lord of the rings or weird like Alice in wonderland...

But she maintained the balance and did not lose the subtlety of the story.
It is better to deserve a thing than to have it rather than having it and not deserving it...J.K. Rowling deserves the fame and success she has...

I really hope that she keeps writing and keeps amusing her fans.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love Aaj Kal - Movie Review

Imtiaz Ali's third film. The quality of his films is degrading with time.

His first film 'Socha Na Tha' was a movie about a guy 'X' in love with a girl 'Y' but his parents want him to marry some other girl 'Z' and finally he falls in love with the girl his parents choose for him - 'Z' and the story ends.

His second film 'Jab we met' was on similar lines where a girl 'X' is in love with a guy 'Y' and on her journey to convience him she falls in love with some other guy 'Z'... and story ends

Both were light hearted movies.

In 'Love Aaj Kal' boy 'X' and girl 'Y' both are in love with each other but they realize it on the day the girl marries someone else - 'Z'!
And then Y dumps Z and gets back to X. Some crazy stuff... I found it very immature.

I wonder what Imtiaz's next film story is... X and Y in love with each other and X gets married to Z has kids and all and 10 years down the line realizes he actually loves Y!

Love aaj kal is a pathetic movie with stupid story and an actress who doesn't know how to act...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The old man and his God

I think the best books by Sudha Murthy are:
'How I taught my grandmother to read' and 'Wise and Otherwise'

After reading this book I thought how can a person have so many varied, interesting experiences in life full of coincidences... there is no way to know if the stories really happened or are imaginary.

Almost all stories are similar to other two books... there is nothing special about it if you have read 'How I..' and 'Wise...'

I admire Sudhar Murthy and her work but I did not like this book.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wise or Otherwise - Sudha Murthi

Sudha Murty is an Indian social worker and an accomplished writer. She runs the Infosys foundation, which focuses on taking health care and primary education to the disadvantaged and underprivileged sections of the society.

Sudha Murty is doubtlessly one of the biggest feminist icons for the country and her experiences indicate the disparities between freedom and privileges given to women across the country.

She is not an extremely talented writer, but her writing is just like her – Simple, intelligent and straight from the heart. This book shows the power of real life stories to move you deeply even if they don’t come clothed in beautiful words.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

I saw the movie Namesake and felt what was so special in it? Now when I read the book ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ by Jhumpa Lahiri I understood how the book Namesake must have been. Jhumpa has an amazing writing style. Very simple and very touching.

Unaccustomed Earth has some very interesting short stories which end abruptly…
You just start getting to know the characters, understand the surroundings and the story ends.

You might want to read the book for its simplicity… for its writing style…

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen

The title is interesting enough to make people want to read the book. This book is about the importance of dilogue in India. The author talks about the arguments from the period of Mahabharata to current politics, arguments between genders; castes, arguments between sceptics, agnostics, atheists; between Hindus and Muslims. After 2-3 chapters it feels like the book is not about argumentative Indians but is about just one argumentative Indian and that is Amartya Sen, trying to prove some facts.
Suddenly out of nowhere he starts talking about Tagore and then keeps mentioning about some random Bengali people from writers to actors. It doesn't make any sense.

Amartya has succumbed to pompous diction and acute prolixity. He has used language that creates distance between him and the readers and the language does not feel natural. Lot of stories in the book are repeated lot many times. This book would have been far interesting if Amartya had chosen simple words and sentences rather than creating complicated sentence structures.

If you are of the types who take up something and then do not like to leave it until you finish even if it gets boring then you might want to read it till the end and PLEASE do so because it starts getting interesting in the end (in Part 4).

I just realized that from my reviews on books and movies even I am an Argumentative Indian!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sham Benegal

This month I watched films by Sham Benegal. Who says meaningful hindi movies are not made? They are… it is just that we like to watch gana bajana :D. No wonder he received national award for almost all his films.
Few of his films I watched and liked:

Ankur - The plot is based on a true story. The story revolves around two characters – Surya and Laxmi. What I found interesting in the plot is: Surya hates his father all his life for a certain reason but he does the same mistakes in his life. This fact is not been shown explicitly or even mentioned in the film or any of reviews of the film…

Nishant - This film’s focus is the power of the rural elite and the sexual exploitation of women. Story is written by Vijay Tendulkar. One of the best movies I have seen so far.

Bhumika - This film is broadly based on a Marathi screen actress of 1940s, 'Hansa Wadkar' who led a flamboyant and unconventional life and focus at an individual's search for identity and self-fulfillment. Very well made movie.

Suraj ka satawa ghoda – I just loved the end of this film…

Mammo – The story revolves around 3 characters – Mammo, Riyaz and Fayyazi. I am at loss of words to explain the beauty of this film.

Zubeidaa - It is the concluding chapter in a trilogy that began with Mammo(1994) and continued with Sardari Begum(1996). (I haven’t seen Sardari Begum yet)

Welcome to Sajjanpur – The story revolves around Mahadev Kushwaha, who is a letter writer in a small village who has an ambition to be a novel writer… this is a light comedy film.

Mandi - The film is a satirical comedy on politics and prostitution. Well made movie… not one of the best of Sham’s movies. Gets boring after an hour but again picks up at the end.

Hari Bhari – Story of 5 muslim females. Very well directed movie.

Kondura – Complete disappointment…

Trikaal – Story of a family in Goa. Well directed movie.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Savor the delicious cuisines

Cooking – what I always found time consuming and boring has been a remarkable experience for me in the last couple of months.
Since the time I started making various dishes I realized I was missing so many tastes and flavors in the world.
What made cooking easy for me -
1. Planning – I take 10 minutes during the week to decide which recipes I want to try and what ingredients are needed. And then take that list with me when I go for my routine grocery shopping.
2. Follow the recipe exactly.
Also some equipments like measuring cups and spoons, pasta cooker ( , all types of baking dishes are essential. It is one time investment.
I am posting some recipes that I tried and loved at www.rasikarecipes.blogspot.comIf you try even one of them and like it please drop a line (even if you have modified it a bit :D)
Give a treat to your palate. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Goal

I recommend this book because...
This book opens the eyes of anyone interested in management to the fundamentals of running a business. It is wrapped inside a very interesting (and yes, even thrilling!) "real-life" story which is written so well that this book could be a best-seller just because of it.

The Goal is a fictional story about Alex, a manufacturing plant manager, struggling with the success of his plant as well as his marriage. His plant has undergone a serious downturn despite various improvements with new technology and higher efficiencies. He’s been given an ultimatum to turn the plant around or it will be shut down and the story is about his struggle and realizations of trying to recover the plant. His work centric lifestyle drives his wife to question their marriage and she moves out on him during this time so Alex is in a real bind and has to find ways to save both his plant and marriage!

Give it a try and you will know reading management novels is sometimes interesting too.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Eat Pray and Love

I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert's much-celebrated travelogue memoir, Eat Pray and Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. I must say I have mixed feelings about the book.
I read this book because it was showcased in Oprah's book club and also I was curious to know what the author had to say about India.

Here is what I think:

1. Before leaving for her journey Elizabeth had received an offer from a publication to write a book on her travel. So I think she started her journey with one of the intent of writing a book. It felt as if she was experiencing everything from the point of view of writing a book.
2.She has not mentioned in the book how exactly she managed the money part for 1 year of her travel. If anyone who has money to travel for an year without worrying about the financial aspects would have written a similar kind of a travelogue (probably better!)
3.Lizy goes to Italy - eats, eats, eats and learns Italian. There is nothing special about the people she meets or the incidences she has mentioned.
4. Next she goes to India. She is a separated and a depressed woman who at one point thinks that she is schizophrenic - meditation changes her state of mind completely.
6. Then she goes to Indonesia. Learns medicine from a medicine man. Elizabeth is going through problems in her marriage. She decides not to be in romantic relationship again. And guess what? There she falls in love with another man.
7. There are problems in every relationship. How does changing the partner made a difference in her life? That is not mentioned in the book...
8. She had no big epiphanies, there were no enlightening experiences shared with readers that would let us know that she has a different outlook/ perspective towards the world.
9. The readers will probably know what was different in the new relationship and how her changed state of mind helped the relationship (hopefully) to survive in her next book.
10. This book is worth reading only for the author's meditation experiences. Everything else in the book is blasé.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Pune - India

Poverty, richness, slums, huge buildings, garbage, cleanliness, temples, traffic, natural beauty, pollution, population – you name it and India has it. I visited India after three long years. Same old Pune looked new to me, it didn’t feel artificial like the western world. In one word I found it REAL…
I bring to you this video with real places, real people and real animals on the roads :)

Don’t forget to put your headphones on.