“Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals” by Chitrita Banerji

Chitrita Banerji’s “Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals” , much like the sweets from Bengal, is delectable. I find the book was originally published in 1991 as, ” Life and Food in Bengal” and has seen several re-prints since then. Well, that title just about sums up what this slim volume covers. I read the recent 2017 edition published by Aleph Book Company. I have briefly lived in West Bengal, for about 4 years and visited there often, although decades ago. Reading Ms. Banerji’s book brought back innumerable memories of Bengal and Bengali food. If they could evoke such emotion within me a non-Bengali, I can well imagine how much it would instigate a Bengali to debate  (and don’t they just love to do that?) on the merits and demerits of the recipes which dot the book from time to time. Continue reading ““Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals” by Chitrita Banerji”

“Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond” by Dr Amit Nagpal & Dr Prakash Hindustani

Not often do authors in India venture into sharing their knowledge in as simple yet effective a way as Dr Nagpal and Dr Hindustani have done in their eminently readable book, ” Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond.” Actually the concept of personal branding was somewhat alien to our business/corporate society in India. With our businesses largely having roots in benevolent patriarchy, it was  often considered impolite, impertinent and even arrogant to speak of your strengths, your achievements and the talents you have to offer. India has changed and so have expectations of the world around us. In this day and age, if you don’t work on developing your personal brand, no one else will.  Continue reading ““Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond” by Dr Amit Nagpal & Dr Prakash Hindustani”

“The Age of Shiva” by Manil Suri

I enjoyed , “The Age of Shiva” (2008) the first book I have read by the US-based Indian-born writer, Manil Suri. I loved the book, admiring the author for his fascinating eye for detail about family life in middle-class North India. Having read this, I plan to seek out the two other books in his trilogy namely, “The Death of Vishnu” (2001) and “The City of Devi” (2013). Continue reading ““The Age of Shiva” by Manil Suri”

“Lal Bahadur Shastri : A Life of Truth in Politics:” by C.P. Srivastava

I was in my teens when Lal Bahdur Shastri served as India’s Prime Minister, the second to hold this high office, becoming Prime Minister at a time when the million dollar question was, “Who can step into the huge shoes left by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru?” It’s only after reading, “Lal Bahadur Shastri: A Life of Truth in Politics” by his long time aide C P Srivastava, a senior Officer of the Indian Administrative Service, that I now realize how little we knew of this great man.  This book was first published in 1995 and has been re-published recently.

Lal Bahadur was by nature modest and humble which perhaps made him seem more effacing than he actually was. Added to this he was only 5′ 2″ in height, which made him seem diminutive when he stood with other world leaders of his time. To start with I didn’t know his family name was Verma and that Shastri was actually a title accorded to him when he passed the “Shastri” degree examination in the first division in 1925 . Srivastava writes, “On the basis of this degree “Shastri” was added to his name. It was an educational suffix, which in course of time became assimilated to his name. He now came to be known to the world at large as Lal Bahadur Shastri, or just Shastri.”  Continue reading ““Lal Bahadur Shastri : A Life of Truth in Politics:” by C.P. Srivastava”

“Private India” by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

There’s a high you get on reading a well written thriller. I experienced this recently when I finished with, “Private India” written by the famous Indian author, Ashwin Sanghi, in collaboration with one who is perhaps the best known thriller writer in the world today, James Patterson. I have no idea about the extent of the collaboration. Is it really Sanghi’s book co-branded with the more famous name of Patterson or is Patterson reaching out to Indian audiences with stories with a distinctly Indian milieu which can best be described by an Indian writer like Sanghi? Whatever the equation it works well, I am sure, for both of them.
Continue reading ““Private India” by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson”

“Donald Trump: The Making of a World View” by Laderman & Simms

No man in recent memory has assumed high office with so much opposition from those who did not vote for him as Donald John Trump did when he was sworn in as the 45 President of the United Sates of America on January 20, 2017. His critics say he knows nothing about politics, government, or foreign policy. He has been labelled a clown, a boorish buffoon and a selfish business man. Yet, Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms point out in their recent book, ” Donald Trump- The Making of a World View” that Trump has been very consistent in his views for the last thirty years on many matters of significant interest to the United States.  Continue reading ““Donald Trump: The Making of a World View” by Laderman & Simms”

Of Malini & Melanie and Memories of Tiffin

Recently, I completed my second serialized short story, called “Malini Vs. Melanie” covered in four installments. Where do we writers get story ideas from? The answer is from the world around us. “Malini Vs. Melanie” in which, of course, the names and situations are disguised is based on a true story I came across during my days as a Management Consultant. In an organisation in which I did some work a young lady was living a Malini/Melanie kind of life but in somewhat greater degree than in my story. She was living with a colleague at work during the work week as Character A in Location A ( somewhat like Melanie) and would return to her parents home every weekend as Character B in Location B, ( somewhat like Malini) if you get what I mean!!  Continue reading “Of Malini & Melanie and Memories of Tiffin”

Malini Vs. Melanie: Part IV

Sethuraman loved to relax in his favourite easy chair looking out of the balcony. This evening he was disturbed. A cow rummaged at a pile of garbage on the road, mainly banana leaves with strands of dried flowers after the recent festival. Normally he would have grumbled about the lazy road cleaners but today he was quiet. Your Mellie and our Sean make a lovely couple. We will be related soon, Seth.” Mrs. Hansen’s words echoed in his head, hurting him like poison-tipped arrows. He felt strangely lethargic. He didn’t shout, as he usually would, when a passing dog sniffed at their gate and let loose a long stream of urine to make a puddle nearby. “Brazen” and “Running wild” was how that old fool Kalyanaraman had described her. The searing pain that hit him in his chest left him breathless. The last straw was that idiot of a driver asking if she was still at home or had run away with someone!! His daughter Malini, the apple of his eye! He broke out in sweat, clutching his chest as another bolt of pain pushed him back when he tried to get up.
The next thing he remembered was gaining consciousness in a hospital bed. There was an air of sterilized silence about the place. Crisply uniformed nurses swished past working with quiet efficiency checking the various tubes that fed him precious blood and medicine. “ICU- Intensive Care Unit” read an illuminated sign above the door. Why was he here? Where were Kamala and Malini?

Continue reading “Malini Vs. Melanie: Part IV”

“The Trail of Ted Bundy” by Kevin M. Sullivan

My take away: an author has manifold challenges in writing a second book  building upon an earlier one. How much does he delve into the past as detailed in the last book? Can one presume that the majority of readers would have read the earlier book? What about those who have never read the earlier book? Or, those who may not have heard of the principal character before, since he was much in the limelight in the 1970s and 1980s? These are some of the interesting points that came to my mind as I read, “The Trail of Ted Bundy: Digging Up The Untold Stories” by Kevin M. Sullivan. Continue reading ““The Trail of Ted Bundy” by Kevin M. Sullivan”

Malini Vs. Melanie, Part III

Malini reached her house as Govindan was leaving.
“Hello, my dear. Enjoying your work?” he smirked.
“Yes, Uncle!”, she said, frowning at his familiarity.
“Please don’t call me ‘Uncle’. I am not that old.”
Before her parents slept that night, her mother asked, “What was Govindan talking to you about? Hope nothing wrong with our finances!”
” He is keen on our Malini though he’s 10 years older!” replied Sethuraman, ” I said we have no marriage plans at present. You know I prefer Balu’s son in London.”
“Govindan is not bad but his father, Kalyan Mama is such a fussy old bore. Malini will be extremely unhappy in the same house as him.”
A few days later, Malini reached home dead tired after a difficult day at work to be greeted with a sullen silence. Her parents were angry. She knew all the signs.  “What happened, Amma? What’s upset you?”
“Don’t act over smart! This was delivered by that stupid Padmaraj, Kalyan Mama’s driver. He had the cheek to say, ‘Message from the Big Boss! He asked me to check whether your daughter is here or has run away with someone!’  Appa nearly had a stroke shouting at that wretch. See what you have done for us! ” her mother yelled and stormed out, throwing an envelope at Malini’s face.