Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Krishna Key - A Book Review

The other day I was reading an interview of the author Ashwin Sanghi. His passion and sincerity shone through the chat and that in essence can be said about his writing too. The constant comparison to Dan Brown must be amusing to him and not entirely unjustified as he explores the exciting mix of historical,religious,theological and mythological issues.The Krishna Key his latest release is a thrilling read till the very end and promises a delightful as well as suprising turn of events. The book a heady cocktail of interesting and original story-line and an imaginative and thought provoking plot manages to keep us riveted. The narrative is slick and fast paced and what captures your attention is the effortless blending of mythology and fantasty along with a scientific explanation.

The story begins begins with a renowned linguist and symbolist Dr.Anil Varshney murdered in a brutal manner. The killing is carried by a  religious psychopath who believes himself to be the 10th incarnation of Vishnu -Kalki Avtar. The killer also snatches an ancient seal from the murder scene which is one of the 4 seals that is believed to unlock the secret behind the Krishna Key. When there is a murder, there is a suspect and this is where we have the protagonist Ravi Mohan Saini. Saini, a historian races against time not only to vindicate himself but also find out the answers to the mystery behind the Krishna Key. Thus begins his arduous trail and the various challenges thrown before him are efficiently faced with logical reasoning and knowledgeable correlation of facts.

One can never ignore the uncanny similarities with the Da Vinci Code - the setting behind the murder with religious overtones,the framing of the protagonist, escaping the clutches of law along with a female accomplice have an eerie similarity with Dan Brown's writing, however it should in no way rob the credit from the author's originality. The book is a treat to the mind and soul and is a heart felt account of looking at the ancient with a fresh perspective. It forces us to think and possibly accept that our civilization may have been very advanced in the past and the current progress can improve many a leaps and bounds by learning from the past.

The book throws some interesting theories like how the lost city of Atlantis is indeed Dwarka or that the war of Mahabharata used Nuclear Weapons. Besides, the Big Bang Theory gets a spiritual twist too.
The internet is full of how Taj Mahal was infact a Shiva temple, and this story delves in to it further and manages to keep us sufficiently enthralled. 
In-fact the 464 pages is dotted with such provoking ideas and is a treasure house of exciting tidbits.  The story does an informative travel around Rajasthan (Kalibangan/Jaipur), Gujarat (Somnath/Dwarka) and UP (Agra/Vrindavan) . The author has done extensive research and due credit is given to the source of the information.So what is The Krishna Key ? -  Grab the book and get lost in the enchanted world of history and fiction ! 

The central character of the book, Lord Krishna around whom the plot is woven adopts the role of story teller from the past. So every chapter begins with  a crisp rendering of his lifetime  in small nuggets from birth till he breathes his last. The book has 108 (of course !) chapters and breezes through 464 pages. What I absolutely loved about the book was the diagrams that give a lucid understanding of the narrative.

Ashwin Sanghi is a businessman who claims to be a reluctant writer. This is his 3rd book, the first two being The Rozabal Line and the Chankya Chant. He has done an amazing job with the book and I am looking forward to reading his other 2 books.

The book is not without flaws. The proof reading of the book has not been spot on. For instance the name of the characters has been mixed up in more than one instance (ex: page 301), and there is also a spelling mistake (Page 95). Besides there were a few half-baked explanations and the end was not totally spectacular compared to the meteoric rise of the adrenalin throughout the book. However, it stimulates and incites us to connect with our spiritual and philosophical self rather than looking at the materialistic end of things. 

Final Word :-

The author has made the genre of historical thrillers a mighty force to reckon with.  
Despite the end being a little spirit-buster, the book is a high flying octane thriller. 
The author connects with the reader through a lucid narrative and exhibits a nice command of the language.The passion behind the work is palpable and the characters are well etched and gives a multi dimensional touch. The ginormous amount of information Vis-a-vis the Vedic ages and the Mahabharata is something I will treasure for a long time to come.

Author    :  Ashwin Sanghi
ISBN        :  978-93-81626-68-9
Price       :  INR 250/-
Publisher :  Westland
Category  : Thriller
Recommendation : Thumbs Up !

Have a look at the exciting online trailer of the book 

This review is part of the Book Review Program of the  blogadda . Participate for free books.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Life, Spice and all things Nice @ Just Married ,Please Excuse - A Book Review

I was thrilled to get an autographed book from the author Yashodhara Lal or Y as she is fondly called for winning the contest on the hilarity of situation(s) in married life and had to agree with hubby when he commented "something good out of the lil mayhem ".   The fun part was hubby eyed the book as soon as it came home and we took turns in reading it. The moment I would put it down he picked it up and vice versa. We both finished reading the book roughly around the same time and agreed it was a pleasant read.

She is an IIM-B educated girl working in a MNC and He is a laid back dude working in the same company. That he is a couple of years elder to her does not deter the sparks that was bound to fly. Y's effervescent charm coupled with a quick tempered nature crosses path with the practical and witty side of V and after some quirky and interesting routine of wooing and dating, marriage is on the cards.

Did I tell you that they belong to very different backgrounds ? V is from a conservative Brahmin family in Jaipur while Y is from a Rajput clan and they set about winning their would be families. The meeting as narrated by Y is amusing and all is set for the D-Day.  What follows is how they evolve post marriage for life is seldom all fun. It is in fact a roller-coaster ride and the book showcases how the relationship matures with turn of events. Both the characters have to get used to each other’s quirks and mannerisms while living under the same roof. Then comes along a baby and their lives becomes topsy-turvy with myriad emotions ruling roost. The baby whom they uniquely nickname peanut brings in a whiff of sunshine and also brings along many revelations including their undying love for each other.

In essence, the book is all about how an young urban couple from different backgrounds meet, fall in love, get hitched, face whiffs of troubles and live life. It is an honest and straight from the heart account of Y and her life. The book is laced with subtle humor  as well as in your face guffaws. I laughed out loud at the non existent drumming skills bragged by V in his effort to woo Y, as well as the mediocre scissor wielding skills of Y executed on V. 

What impressed me about the book was the lucid language and the conversational flow of the narrative. It is also interspersed with  Hindi phrases that brings a certain personal touch.Besides the protagonists, various other characters are immensely likeable like the doting Kajal & zareena, the spunky vivi and the immediate family.

I could relate to the emotions of the book at various points. The pangs of a first time mother is sensitively etched and so is the trauma of moving out of the city to a newer pasture. I appreciated the couple going for the marriage counselling as it highlights their efforts in making the relationship work.However,the tsunameee/earthquake incident at the fag end of the book sounded a bit dramatic and was not that amusing, though the event was instrumental in drawing the couple closer.

How can I not say anything about the lovable Y & V. They are modern and sensitive couple with a fun albeit a different take on life and priorities. Y is an independent woman and is a vibrant personality. She is fun loving though at times she comes across as slightly spoilt too.  However, her efforts in facing troubles is praise-worthy as is her yearning to be recognized for her true self. 

V is this sensitive and caring dude who often lands himself in trouble for think- after-you-speak attitude. He is a loving hubby and a doting father. I loved the way he relentlessly made sure that Y overcomes her fear of driving. However, what surprised me was that a person with such a fun personality had to harbour negative feelings about the SMS from GARY. He could have simply asked Y as to who Gary was instead of sulking and becoming cold and passive. Nevertheless, V is fun !

Final Word :-

The book from the debutante author never falters and manages to keep your attention till the end.You can relate to the couple and celebrate life with all its accompanying baggage. It ends on a positive note and that brings cheer.

What stayed with me was a profound observation by V’s mother on trials & tribulations of marriages ---
"Ladne ki kya baat hain ? kabhi main maan jaati hoon, toh kabhi woh"
(What is there to fight ? Sometimes, I agree with what he's saying and sometimes he agrees with what I'm saying !)

Author    :  Yashodhara Lal
ISBN        :  9789350292273
Price       :  INR 199/-
Publisher :  Harper Collins
Category  : Fiction
Recommendation : Thumbs Up !

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The many joys of e-shopping

Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping. ~ Bo Derek

Who doesn't like shopping, the sheer adrenaline rush of looking at the goodies, lingering at the varieties and finally making a choice gives a rush that is very satisfying.  It is another matter that when the credit card bill comes home, the heart beats a different story :D

And when the shopping is virtual, the thrill is a different high. 
I still remember the first time I shopped online a few years back. I was a mix of nervous anticipation and apprehension. The item in question was a personalized CD featuring a mix of all time romantic songs for hubby. Gotta say, the gift came on time and was  thoroughly enjoyed.

And ever since, I have been hooked to the online shopping bug. Be it 
 cards, books,dresses, handicrafts , practically anything and everything. There has seldom been any hassle with regard the purchase. Any any glitch that made its presence felt was sorted out comfortably. So I am an e-shopping aficionado and why not ?  Sitting in the cool confines of home and flexing a few muscles brings products at the door step. NO traffic rush, no haggling with the auto wallah and definitely no hyper kids to run behind while struggling with trying out clothes in the trial room ! What a bliss !  And with a lot of options and the innumerable portals around, the online shopping experience is only getting better. 

Mostly the products I e-shop are only for personal use.Recently I made 2 separate purchases on Jabong.com & Hutk.com for clothes to be directly shipped as gifts to my dear ones. That I was fraught with nervous anticipation is saying the least. Gifting clothes without seeing them face-to-face is not something that I was comfortable with but the end result was spectacular.

For my mom’s 60th birthday I wanted to gift her a lovely elegant saree. Typing sarees in google search landed me in Jabong.com.I was blown by the number of varieties of sarees in the portal. A whopping 1969 vied for my attention. Not only are they segregated with respect to colour but also with regards to under the same price tag, and also by brand names. Besides they are also grouped by means of party wear, ethnic wear, and the material used. After a few shortlisting, I eyed the one that caught my eye and knew instinctively that it would appeal to my mom. I added it to the shopping cart and made a virtual check out paying it with a credit card. Immediately, the details of the purchase with order number, product id and delivery time flashed on my mobile and the email alerted me of the confirmation from the Jabong team. While the delivery said 2-5 days, what surprised me was, the saree reached my mom the same evening. I was surprised to get an elated call from my mom telling me that she simply swooned over  the saree and also marveled at the leap in technology. She was never a huge fan of e-shopping, but gotta say, she became a convert !

Recently, I wanted to send something to my sister-in-law for Rakhi. I was thoroughly apprehensive as it was the first time  I was online shopping for something to be sent abroad. A few searches on the google landed me to the site of hutk.com. The portal powered by the Times of India group was a pleasure for virtual shopping as the portal is dedicated to online shopping from India for Sarees, Lehengas, Handbags, Footwear, Jewelry, Religious items, paintings and many more for any postal address in the world. I loved the shots of the images that gave a clear idea of the product in question and the order was placed without a hitch. Besides, the immediate email with the purchase details assured me of the product reaching the recipent within a week. Also, I could track the status of my order through the DHL express with the order number given. And the designer salwar kameez reached before time. A very happy call from my SIL is something I will treasure forever.

Shopping virtually is fun and no sweat. Be it shoes, dress, books or any handicraft item,  the great deals, exquisite varieties, cutting edge technology, sensitive customer care , at the door step delivery and superior buying experience gets my thumbs up. 

With more personal physical experience of virtual shopping , the trend of anytime e-splurging is here to stay.

This post is part of the blogadda in association with snapdeal.com

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Myriad Melbourne

I often day dream and conjure up adventures like Alice in Wonderland. Many a times my fantasying lands me in exotic places. The other day after watching a rerun of Masterchef Australia, I fell into one of my reveries. I dreamt of getting selected by the people of Masterchef for a sneak peek behind the filming of Season 5. I accepted and was flown to Melbourne with kids and hubby in tow. I  was surprised and asked the production team "Why Melbourne?" and to my delight I learnt that the show has moved its production from Sydney to Melbourne.

On reaching the lively city, we were greeted by the team of Masterchef Australia. This highly popular cookery show has a huge fan in me. The contest showcases the culinary skills of amateur chefs across Australia and is a right mix of  action & drama. Laced with humor, warmth and camaraderie, the show tugs the heart. The team of Gary, George and Matt *2  are a riot. My daughter was delighted to meet them and was busy collecting autographs and posing for pictures. Looking at the larger than life Masterchef Kitchen as well as the pantry to die for, the adrenaline buzz in me was mighty high. I itched for whipping out something for the crew and dished out yummy Mysore Pak. The judges and the crew enjoyed the dish so much and we chatted & pottered around for some time and bid an emotional goodbye. 

(Pic Courtesy: Masterchef Australia.com)

Before leaving, we got an insiders view of the city and proceeded to enjoy the city thoroughly.

(Pic credit: Wiki)

Before going any further, the foodie in me was compelled to look at the food and wine scene of Melbourne . And why not? Melbourne is the home of the Australian food culture.  With an eclectic choice of fine dining options, the city is a potpourri of global cuisine. Dotted with restaurants, bistros, bars and cafes, the food and wine teases the palate like nothing else. What is it you crave for - Thai or Mexican? How about Indian or do you yearn for some middle eastern magic? This city is just the right place to indulge in your food fantasies. What I also loved is the mobile food van culture that treats you to the most dizzying varieties of street food. Having pigged out heartily, we tapped into the Melbourne CafĂ© culture. The city is indeed the coffee capital of Australia and is strewn with cafes from which emanates aromas divine. Sipping an espresso, I let out a hearty and happy sigh of contentment.

With the rumbling tummy satiated it was time to explore the vibrant city. This bustling metropolis, the second most populated city, is the capital of the state of Victoria. Brimming with energy the city oozes a sophisticated lifestyle and an exciting blend of modern as well as ancient heritage. There is no doubt that the city is a melting pot of cultures. Boutiques, galleries and spacious parks give the city the stylish edge.

The kids hankered for visiting the koalas and so we landed up in Heallesville Sanctuary. Watching the wildlife in their natural habitat was a different high and we had an up & close view of the enchanting wildlife including wombats, koalas, dingoes and various exotic varieties of birds. Also on our agenda was the Melbourne Aquarium housing giant sharks and stingrays. It was so much fun and what is not to be missed is the live feeding presentation that is held twice a day.

We took a break for the day and ended up in a hotel rejuvenating ourselves for the next day. And the second day was action packed with a whole lot of sight seeing. We began with the Melbourne Museum, this is a must visit for experiencing Melbourne's rich history. The museum showcases the indigenous culture, art and architecture and was a visual treat. The children has great fun in the children's gallery while hubby and me had a refreshing walk in the forest gallery.

Next on the agenda was the Melbourne Cricket GroundHubby dearest was looking forward to standing on the mecca of cricket. MCG as it is popularly called was a fun trip. Taking a tour of the sacred ground we relived the great sporting memories associated with the grounds and savoured all the memories for reliving later.

Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
(Pic Courtesy:Visit Melbourne.com)

We also packed in the Melbourne Planetarium and finished the day with a flourish by  enjoying the Docklands.

The third day was equally frenetic. Visiting a place without shopping- you got to be kidding right? We were headed to Melbourne's shopping mecca - Queen Victoria Market. Enamored by the various market precincts we shopped till we dropped. Souvenirs, clothing and toys made our wallets lighter whilst we ogled at all the fresh local produce. 

Visiting 12 Apostles was our next agenda . Driving  along the Great Ocean Road we looked forward to watching the  magnificent rock stacks that rise up from the Ocean. And we were thrilled. It was a sight to behold. A very cherished visit.

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
 (Pic courtesy : Visit Melbourne.com)

The last day we explored the Yarra Valley Wine region Melbourne. As we sipped and sniffed wines we learnt a thing or two about wine making. We also made the best use  of the city being cycle friendly and savoured the thrill of losing ourselves in the cobbled laneways and marveled at the infrastructure. I have also to tell you about the rather temperamental weather. All the four seasons at varying times of the year shapes the city to a traveler's delight. We so did not want the moment to go away and savoured every moment of it, promising ourselves to come back to the place again. 

And while reliving our experience back in the hotel we ruminated as to why the city is so happening? It has to be attributed to the diverse yet harmonious communities living in it.  The people of the city are very warm, welcoming and very generous too. Their lively spirits rubs on you and the city almost becomes a home away from home. With so much happening it is no doubt that Melbourne has been ranked as the world’s most livable city for the 2nd year in row.

As I was lost in my dreamy holidays, I was snapped back from my reverie by my hubby who had come for lunch. Lunch was the last thing on my mind as I was abuzz with the Melbourne magic.I narrated my dream as vividly as possible and he remarked that it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!

Just then my daughter pitched an innocent yet poignant question - Mom, 'What if you don't win'?

Hubby reassured her with "We are Melbourne bound anyways sweety !"

This post is for Indiblogger - Visit Melbourne contest