Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Reviews - November 2014

Persepolis is a humorous and haunting memoir written by Marjane Satrapi. It is the first time ever that I read a graphic novel and realized that plain text books do not take advantage of the massive processing power of our minds. The pictures in Persepolis are absolutely stunning and tell so much more than words do. I have also seen the movie based on this book but I must say that this book is hundred times better than the movie based on it. It is a must read book!



I read 2 books from George R.R.Martin's book series 'A song of Ice and Fire'. The books are way too lengthy and there is lot of information about characters in it than I cared to know or even equipped to remember! HBO TV show 'Game of Thrones' has done more than justice to this book series. 

Other two award winning books that I absolutely didn't like - A wrinkle in time - Madeleine L'Engle (may be it’s a children's book and I happened to read it at a wrong phase in life) and Old Man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Some Really Good Movies



A Separation - Asghar Farhadi makes us roam endlessly in complicated lives of a group of people. There is no essence no meaning, just like life... simple and pure. His films are like onions, they peel one layer at a time - of characters, their situations, story and the complications. A Separation is not about sex or violence, there is no sentimentalism or philosophical pretense nor is it a morality tale AND yet an extremely beautiful, engaging and a very well deserved Oscar winning film.






The Past - This is one more by Asghar Farhadi. Whatever we are today - our judgement, opinions, decisions and perception is all because of our past. In fact the minute we say "I am" the next moment we become "I was" and though the movie shows what is happening in the present in a way it is all about past, just like our lives. While the viewers wait for a judgement there is no end to Farhadi's movies. To our angst film stops leaving us dismay. There are no epiphanies no miracles no preaching. As a director he doesn't lead us to show who is good who is bad. The viewers get the task to do that! A very beautiful film!


Lucia - There was a time when I didn't miss watching any hit Bollywood film. Since almost 7 years I have seen hardly one Bolly film a year. My thirst to see Indian movies is quenched by watching regional cinema. Lucia is a Kannada film which I thought is loosely based on Murakami's book 'Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world'. I feel Indian regional films have touched a milestone with Lucia. The conquest of Lucia lies in the twist that overturns the entire story and in its color treatment (colored/ black & white). I strongly recommend this film.



Wednesday, June 04, 2014

May 2014 - More Book Reviews

1. Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Sallinger

I didn't like a long series of books that I read - like 50 shades of gray, divergent. So I decided to try classics. I feared I might fail to understand these sort of books. Catcher in the Rye has fairly simple language and structure to understand, very well written book but did I like the story? Nah! Its my inability to interpret 'show but don't tell' stories. I am too dumb to decipher any symbolism or anything, so Satanic Verses is out of my league. I couldn't put the book down but at the end of it I thought what exactly was it about? This book was banned for a few years in the US and is considered a classic. Go for it, unlike me you may be able to construe the story.



2. To kill a mockingbird - Harper Lee


This month I read books which are really good examples of writing so I was not frustrated at any point. In US school students have to read certain books as a part of their syllabus like this book 'To kill a mockingbird'. I wonder why there is no such thing in our Indian school syllabus? I had seen the movie based on this book earlier, liked the book too. I would definitely recommend it.





3. Lady with the toy dog - Chekhov

I heard this audio book by BBC, Anton Chekhov is famous for his short stories and his frugal use of words. I thought it was a good story so I would be reading a short story book by Chekhov this month. A lot of his stories are available on audio books too.

4. The Pluto files - Neil Tyson
This depicts the history and geography of Pluto, didn't like it much. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Idiot Box : Part 7


Last week tonight with John Oliver -
I do see a few talk shows now and then like 'The daily show with John Stewart' or the 'Colbert Report' but John Oliver is the best of all. It is Oliver's satirical take on the current happenings. I give it 5/5.






True Detective -


I was totally completely absolutely impressed by the dialogues, story and music. Finale was a little bit let down but worth to watch this show for those first 7 good episodes.
I give it 4/5.







Cosmos -

 It needs skill to express or write ones feelings in exact words. I don't know what to say about this brilliant series except the fact that I cried after watching each episode just by looking at the vastness of the cosmos and the futility of life. Kudos to the makers! I give it 100/10. A must watch show for people from all ages. I watched it on Fox channel but I think all episodes are available here - http://www.cosmosontv.com/

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 2014: Book Reviews

1. Matilda - Roald Dahl

Matilda is a children's book. I loved the audio book by BBC. I give it 4/5 stars.






2. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

I haven't read the first two books in the series but have seen the movies. Couldn't wait any longer to know the end of hunger games so read the book. The book is better written than other fast food effect books like divergent or 50 shades of gray (I fail to fathom how the later one became a bestseller~). I give it 3/5 stars and feel that there was no need to make 2 part movie based on this book.



3. Seven pillars of health - Donald Colbert

I absolutely loved the book it talks about 7 pillars of health - water, food, sleep, nutrients, exercise etc. Each pillar is covered in depth starting from what kind of water you should drink, what are its constituents, what are the filtering methods available, which ones are the best to if your body requires supplements. The book is targeted for Christians but the author does not over stress on his faith or religion. Jesus appearing in one or two sentences in the book was fine by me. I highly recommend this book, I give it 4.5/5 stars.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Reviews : April 2014

1. Mind Body Medicine : The science of Optimal Health - Jason M. Satterfield

This is an audio/video series of 36 lectures, each covering different topics like why some people catch cold, exercise, sleep, stress, depression, personality types and diseases, cardiovascular diseases.
The most interesting part was listening about new research in the field of biology. I listened to one chapter everyday and almost for a month talked about just these lectures to everyone around me. I strongly recommend you listen to this series. I give it 5/5.




2. Monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma

 This book gives a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance, and joy. I absolutely loved the book and wondered why I didn't read it earlier. I give it 5/5.




3. Fermat's Last Theorem - Simon Singh



I majored in Mathematics, I assure you I am not good at it. I did it simply because I love problem solving. During last year of graduation we had 9 different subjects in Math like Real Analysis, Modern Analysis, Complex Analysis and what not. Each having hundreds of theorems and their proofs. None of the textbooks mentioned where these theorems were applied, how are they used in the real world? I found it frustrating. Fermat's Last Theorem is a book that covers the story of how Fermat's last theorem was proved in the 90s. The book is very well written, it has a mystery kind of a feel to it but again fails to make readers understand if the proof helped resolve any real world problems? or was it just a challenge for people who like to play with numbers and find some random co-relations between them. I give it 4/5.




Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Nothing Something


How and why did it begin? Is there an end to it?  Was there space before the big bang? Or then big bang created the space? What exactly is space? Why is it there?
Is the universe open? Are there multiple universes?

What created life? Is there a creator? If yes then what created the creator? What is the purpose of life in the universe? Is there even a purpose? Did nature wanted to let out its secret and that is why humans evolved the way they did?

It is all perplexing.  I am sure most of you think about these questions. These sorts of questions bother me many times. I am not helping in any way to find the answers but some are - of course I am not talking about Gurus/Sadhus who say they know it all, I am talking about finding it scientifically.

I totally feel that humans have the capacity to find answers. It may take many years to get there. I have utmost respect for those who are making efforts in understanding the process of creation.

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing 
 by Lawrence M Krauss is a must read book - brilliant and easy to understand. Does it have an answer to all the above questions? NO! but It shows that we are on the track and gives a summary of things we know today.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Book Reviews

A fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

There are some books which I love and still have no patience to finish reading -
various factors like number of pages/ pace of the story affects affects the interest level. I recommend 'A fine balance' and 'Cutting for Stone' to anyone who like long books - both have really good reviews and ratings on goodreads.






Mountain of Light - Indu Sundaresan

There are times when I skip a few passages here and there but in this book I didn't want to miss even a word. This is the story about Kohinoor diamond and its journey. Liked it, 3.5/5 stars



Perks of being a wallflower - Stephen Chbosky


 Loved the story telling in this book. Chbosky portrays a character of innocent and naive 15 year old boy - Charlie - who is bright but shy. I give it 3/5 stars. If I had read this book a bit younger this would definitely have been 4 stars.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March Book Reviews

Tu bhramat Aahasi Vaya (Marathi) - Va. Pu. Kale

Va. Pu. Kale is one of my most favorite writers. Each one of his book amazes me. 
I am in absolute awe of his work. Tu Bhramaat aahesi Waaya is one such astonishing book by Va. Pu.
I give it 4/5 stars.







Lava (Hindi) - Javed Akhtar

Knowing multiple languages is a boon. One can enjoy the literature/ movies and know the culture in a 
true sense. Lava is a Hindi-Urdu poetry book by Javed Akhtar.
I liked Akhtar's book Tarkash a lot more than this. Tarkash is also available in English (with name Quiver).



I absolutely recommend both books. I give Lava 4/5 and Tarkash 5/5.



Ayushya Bahartana (Marathi) - Pravin Davane

Sawar Re series is Davane's best work by far. He writes short articles on everything about life. Sometimes his thinking comes as too strong and too old for this generation.
If I ever meet him I want to tell him "Davane, take a chill pill" :-). But definitely a very good
writer - thought provoking and inspirational. I give Ayushya Baharatana 3/5 stars.

Monday, March 03, 2014

W O R D S

Many of you must have heard sentences from others 'You are the most X person I have met in my life'. X can be anything  - stupid, ugly, cold, emotional, wonderful, beautiful...

Does it matter to you what others opinions are about you? Be it good or bad? Or you are self confident about who you are and you take nothing personally?
If the comments are bad then do they impact you? Do you ignore it knowing the immaturity of the person?

We judge ourselves and mostly we judge everything and everyone around us. 
Since we are being judged we pretend to be what we are not because we are afraid of being rejected.So do we keep pretending? Or stay the way we are even if we are rejected? Believe in ourselves and gather the strength to feel positive even though seeds of words rot our fertile mind?

I have seen talented people who feel low self esteem/inferiority complex simply because of bullying/bad words at an early age by their friends-relatives-parents-siblings. 

When I weighed 171 pounds someone commented "Oh My God Rasika you look terribly FAT". This was coming from a person thrice my size. I found it hilarious but I did not retaliate. I knew her state of mind - happiness over other's misery comes with jealousy. 
I weigh 40 pounds lesser now while that person keeps growing. 

My point being we don't look in a mirror before we gossip/comment or pass judgement.
When people pass comments they are ignorant of their own miserable state. Also our success or failure depends on how we process and filter words. Our strength is shown by not throwing any swords of words.

Each of us draws a circle around ourselves and we think whatever is outside that circle is wrong/ not good/ not acceptable and then we try to domesticate others based on our perception of the world. Should we get domesticated or rebel? Rebel for freedom... to be true to ourselves... to be true to who we are...

You absolutely need to read the book 'The Four Agreements' if you feel low by words/gossip/judgement. Make your children read it too so that they know how to deal with words and also think twice before they use (s)words.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Respect Me!

She was a newly wed and I was at her in-law's house laughing and chatting. Her mother in law showed up in the room and told her that some elders had come to give her their blessings. After the MIL left the girl expressed her displeasure about the tradition of touching elder's feet and how she was having backache because of bending down so many times. I could see she was angry and had no interest in meeting the guests. Anyhow, she went out and acted like a perfect bahu (daughter in law).

Yes this post is about the Indian custom of touching feet of the elderly. They say it is the way of showing respect. So in the above example was there any respect? or simply a hassle/an act? Not bending down shows egoistic nature? disrespect? Does that mean everyone except Hindus disrespect the elderly?

I saw the brothers bowing down half way and touching the elder's feet with one hand, when I did the same the Mother got furious. Girls are supposed to bend down all the way and do pranam thrice. Why? Girls need to 'act' to be more respectful? 

I touched my grandmother's feet on every birthday - no one ever told me to do that, I did it by choice. I might have forgotten to do it on a few birthdays, who knows, but no one got mad about it or reminded me to do it including the Grandmother. 

I have seen people getting angry if the young ones did not touch their feet. This girl/boy does not have any sanskar (family values) they said. 

There were some elders who always stopped me from touching their feet and instead shook hands with me. I felt closer to them, opened up more and of course still respect them. Reason?
They didn't command respect! 

Old generations reading this post - The young generation might not touch your feet but they do show respect in their own way, youngest generation reading this post - young generation is smart enough to understand if you really respect them ;-)

Monday, February 24, 2014

... Education

When I was 10 I asked my mother 'how is a baby made?'. She told me I will know about it when I grow a little old. To think of it now, why was I perfectly fine with this explanation?

Sometimes the BFF's elder brother and his friends would be watching something on the TV which needed to be switched off as soon as they heard us. What were they watching? Neither any of my friends talked to me about this topic nor did I have the curiosity.

Today's generation is more curious by nature. All they need to do is ask Google "how is a baby made?". They have too many resources available. Is it good to have so much exposure to the good bad and the ugly information at such an early age?

Are today's parents worried about it? Why is it hard for parents to talk with their children about the very cause of our beautiful existence? Is there anything shameful about it? After all it is the reason we are here today, writing and reading this.

I am not sure why I did not put the very much required first word in the title...

Marathi movie 'Balak Palak' revolves around the topic of sex education to adolescent children. It could very well have been something awkward to watch but on the contrary it has a very gentle treatment and is simply hilarious. Definitely a must watch.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Facebook Woes

Last year on Facebook I hid the news feed from all those who posted:

 (i) what they made or ate for breakfast/ lunch/ dinner - I got hungry each time I saw such statuses.

 (ii) the ones who made it their children's growth diary - it is simply boring to see what people's kids are drawing or wearing.


 (iii) the ones who posted photos of their social gatherings - That made me feel lonely and in many cases unwanted as I was not invited ;-).

 (iv) people who made it their minute by minute diary - 'reached gym', 'at the airport' - I mean who gives a sh**

(v) and the ones who were acquaintances 

By the year end I was subscribed to just 5 people who posted their opinions - thoughts - information on various topics, whose statuses motivated me to exercise/eat healthy, be organized/creative or inspired me in some way.

I am not on Facebook anymore, as they say Ignorance is Bliss - it truly is. I feel lighter because of less information overload. 

While reading Facebook statuses I always had a feeling that I am the only one having problems while life is rosy for the rest. People generally tend to share only their happy moments on Facebook, we are deceived into believing that they are happier than they actually are. I also started to feel this urge for constant recognition of all my actions.
  
Not so good/tough times still continue in life but I do feel happier than before...!


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Almost Single

Almost Single - Advaita Kala

Women today are independent, they get married late, get separated/ divorced without having to be stuck in nasty marriages. They live alone and do not depend on any man to take care of them. Indian society is still not very accepting of the situation. Advaita in this book Almost Single writes a story about such three independent women. I loved the book, couldn't put it down, it is simply hilarious. I give it 3.5/5 stars.

Getting things done - David Allen

I always end up taking more projects than I can devote time for and so the need to read these type of books. Nothing new that we do not know about but reading these type of books keeps me on track. I give it 3/5 stars.

Eat that frog - Brian Tracy

This book is on the similar lines of Getting things done, I liked this one better. It talks about 21 ways to get more things done in less time. I give it 3.5/5 stars.

Become a better you - Joel Osteen

I have way too many self help audio books that I play while driving/ cleaning. Though the material in this book is very good don't read it if you are an atheist or agnostic. Not unless you can ignore the word 'God' that appears in every sentence (I am not exaggerating). I am not rating this book simply because it was not meant for me.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Studio Ghibli Films


When I watch Studio Ghibli films I feel a strong sense of familiarity and at the same time experience a feeling of strangeness!

There are no heroes or villains in their films; it would be an overly simplistic theme for Ghibli.

Ghibli films are about witches, robots, war-torn wastelands, wonder, love and about simple everyday things. These films are brilliant work of creation.
How does one recommend a first Ghibli film? They are ALL so good. 


Except spirited away and the cat returns I am in awe of all their films.

Here is a list of some Ghibli Films that I liked:

1. Castle in the sky
2. Grave of Fireflies
3. My neighbor Totoro
4. Only Yesterday
5. Whisper of the Heart
6. My neighbors the Yamadas
7. Howl's moving castle
8. Arriety
9. From up on Poppy hill



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Idiot Box : part 6



21. Comedy circus : It comes as a gentle breeze in an otherwise chaotic and dry life. I thoroughly enjoy each and every episode of comedy circus and am amazed each time to see the amount of talent. The show is simply hilarious. Mubin and Sidharth are my favorites.


22. Comedy nights with Kapil - Some do think they have a sense of humor but it is so easy to get carried away- leave the land of humor and enter the territory of insulting others. Two most important things required to be a great comedian are timing and knowing where to stop.

Kapil has an impeccable comedy timing and knows where to stop. Sunil Grover who featured on the show earlier is one of the finest comedians, he has a class. After Sunil left the show it got boring for me. I enjoy celebrity interviews on the show rest of it is way too loud for my taste.

23. Satyamev Jayate: Amir Khan discusses social issues in India. I do not know if any shows can bring about social reforms but I feel Aamir Khan might bring about a revolution in small parts of the country. The amount of research Aamir and his team has put into the show was clearly visible with the facts and figures presented. Every aspect of the issue was covered with great diligence.

Awaiting to watch the second season (starts in March 2014).

24. Khupte tithe gupte : I do not know half of the people coming on the show but half of them are the ones I have watched all my growing years. It feels great to see the interviews of Marathi actors/ musicians/ politicians/ poets and social workers.


25. Koffee with Karan : I do not wait for any other show as much as I wait for Koffee with Karan. The show is success simply because of Karan Johar's effervescent personality. The juicy gossip is a dollop on top.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Idiot Box: part 5



17. Dexter: A serial killer who kills other serial killers, I loved the concept but I could watch just one season of this show. I thought I will get numb to watching all these killings after few episodes but that did not happen. Of course I will recommend this show to everyone who is not as fainthearted as me.


18. The returned: Many religions promise reunion with our departed loved ones in an afterlife or the bodily resurrection of the dead themselves, what will happen if it comes true? Zombies are in fashion today but this show is different and definitely worth watching.

19.  Elementary: I adore Sherlock Holmes, a character that was created in 1887 by Doyle is still as much (or may be more) mesmerizing and fascinating. With changing times Sherlock's character has grown too.. he uses gadgets, internet and what not. I loved this show and all the actors in it.


20. The Blacklist: I do find Megan Boone a little irritating at times mostly because of her hair style which keeps poking her eyes and second because of her make up and dressing style which doesn't match the character she plays. She is slow and acts dull, hard to believe she is a FBI agent. I watch the show for James Spader, he is stunning. A good crime drama.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Once there lived a Rain


Before his arrival the sky looks angelic like a dome of plasma blue. Flowers, trees, leaves dance with the soft gentle breeze, birds chirp and then the expected drizzle comes our way. I hold my palms out to feel its gentle touch.

The company of this delightful rain feels like a newborn's aroma, soft touch and joyful presence. He keeps drizzling playfully, then commences the clamorous thunderstorms. He starts dashing as if he has conquered the whole world. Where does his cheerfulness and innocence vanish? He acts like a reckless teenager.

He erupts, floods and reaches cliff of a mountain. He is dazzled to see the radiant landscape in front of him, halcyon skies above and a deep valley underneath. Everything is suddenly crystal clear, he regrets for all the disruption and damage that he did on his way to the cliff. He sees many alike falling in the valley and the ones that follow him would end the same.

Did he unite with a river, meet the sea or was absorbed by the soil? Who knows! No one could find a trace as if he never existed... But before leaving he fulfilled his dream, even though just for a few seconds he did leave a ravishing rainbow...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Believer

I was born and brought up in a religious family and surrounding. I love the aroma and mellifluous bells in temples, I feel peaceful in temples with old architecture built on the banks of lake/river but I also feel a surge of vacuum in me when I see the devotees and their immense faith in deities, when I look at their boundless belief that they are in company of the creator and when get a glimpse at the magnitude of their emotions for the idols. I am sure it must be wonderful to experience this intense feeling called faith (in God); unfortunately I haven't experienced even an iota.

I feel out of place in temples.

It is not easy to say you don't believe in God in India. You could be a social outcast if you express it. I thought twice before publishing this post as well. One is emotionally blackmailed to be a part of prayers. 'Atrocious things will happen to you if you don't believe in God'. Can one develop or learn the beautiful feeling called faith by these scare tactics? It is extremely tough for a non believer to fake this pure emotion, it feels like disrespecting an angelic, sacred belief of someone.

Nobody knows who created the stars, planets, earth or life. Some claim that they know, good for them. If some entity created all this then who created that entity? What is the meaning and purpose of life on any planet? Many such questions perplex my mind and I am sure most of the atheists think about it. I disagree when people say atheists are egoists. Atheists do consider all possibilities, they are readers/thinkers too, they might have been believers themselves once.

One can try to find the answers through prayers, reading, visiting temples or meditation. Or someone might say I have this life and I am going to enjoy its beauty, neither do I have any question nor am I waiting for any answer. What is wrong with that?

Faith in this world is perfectly possible without having faith any other world. Do not force your thoughts on other people and specially your children, everyone is smart enough to think and decide, give them freedom to express their opinions. Consider their decision as much beautiful and pure as yours. Life is as much divine as a believer of nature. I hope people stop forcing their faith or skepticism onto others.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Idiot Box: part 4

11. Big Bang Theory : This show is based on four geeks. Even if they hold PHDs their is something off about them be it public speaking, common sense or the obsessive compulsive disorder. This also stars the hottest female on planet Earth - Kaley Cuoco. Sheldon Cooper is my favorite character, I see a lot of his traits in me and people around me. I like my tea of a certain temperature, anything else pisses me off. Of course Sheldon is an extreme but the awareness that we all have a mini Sheldon in all of us makes the show more interesting.

12. Everybody Loves Raymond : Fun riot. Story about Raymond who lives with wife and kids right across his interfering parents. Families are same everywhere!

13. Friends : This show needs no introduction. I must have seen each episode at least thrice.

14. 8 Simple Rules (for dating my teenage daughter) : This stars the lovely Kaley Cuoco. First three seasons (until one of the main character passed away) were hilarious.

15. Sex and the city : I was totally addicted to sex and the city (I mean the show). As the name suggests it is about sex, city (New York) and also about shoes, fashion, relationships. I loved the way they have portrayed the friendship among four main characters. They share everything from positive, beautiful to negative and ugly. I liked the writer character the most. She is a quiet observer of everything from those intense passionate moments to the lulls. The way she writes her column is thought provoking. Try it you might get addicted too.

16. Desperate Housewives: How did I ever get to watch a show with that name? Simply because it was available on Netflix instant watch. I watched just the first season and loved it. There is a difference in how a family or individual is viewed by people and how they are inside those closed doors of their house or minds. Every single person in this world has a secret that they have not shared with anyone. It can be as small as they broke a cup to may be killed someone. The show revolves around these secrets, the exterior and the interior of people and families.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

One liner book reviews



1. The Sari shop widow: Shobhan Bantwal

Slipshod story, don’t read it even if you get it for free.


2. Bangarwadi (Marathi book): Vyanktesh Madgulkar


Simply loved it, looking forward to read more books by Vyanktesh Madgulkar


3. Allegiant: Veronica Roth


Read just half, couldn’t take her writing style, even after reading first 2 books in the series I didn’t care about the end anymore.


4. 7 Spiritual Laws of Success: Deepak Chopra


Deepak Chopra’s books always make me feel positive.


5. Ekam (Marathi book): Milind Bokil


I liked all the books by Milind Bokil that I read - Shaala, Udakaichya arti and Ekam

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE.