Book Review : Joy 24×7

This book captures some of the philosophical sayings of Sadhguru, founder of the Isha foundation, on abstract and elusive themes of happiness and success. In order to review this book, it would only be apt to quote few passages I liked the most :)

Miserable people have  passed off as intelligent people in the world, because they have miserable questions and complications in their minds

One of the main reasons why you have become miserable is, instead of falling back into your Joy, you are trying to pursue Joy

First you must have an existence and then being joyful arises.Right now, you’re just a reflection of the society in which you live, there’s no such thing as you in this.Only an individual can know Joy

All the time, your one and only problem and the very basis of your misery is that life is not happening the way you think it should be happening

Greed is very relative.In your perception, you are never greedy.Somebody else who has reached a place where you aspire to get is greedy.

When people are joyful, they must look at life with great depth; but when they are happy, they live frivolously.Something has to go dead wrong in their life for them to look deeper.

If you are a truly joyful person, no exploitation can ever touch you. Only a miserable person is constantly thinking as to who will exploit them

Thinking about something is not worrying, you better think about things clearly; but going on thinking about the same thing is worry

Joy will not happen if you change the Content of your life; it will only happen if you change the Context of your life.

Amen :)

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Book Review: Lajja

Yes I used to call myself a human being, and I believed in humanism. But these Muslims did not let me stay human. They made me a Hindu.

Lajja is written by the fiery religious activist Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh. Apparently this book was penned in just 7 days as claimed by the author.It is a work of fiction but set in a non-fictional background with the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition on 6th December, 1992 providing the historical background.

Lajja portrays in great depth and detail the agony and the anguish which the Hindu populace of Bangladesh had to endure after the Babri Masjid was brought down by Hindu fanatics in India. Ms. Nasreen weaves a plot involving the Dutta family and how the communal riots turn them from communists and nationalists to awkwardly assertive Hindus.The story culminates with the family reluctantly deciding to leave their beloved homeland and migrate to India.

This novel had been on my to-read list for a long time. But by the time I had leafed through the first 10 pages, I was convinced that the only claim to fame Lajja had was it’s controversial nature. A plain and simple plot is further let down by average narration, copious amounts of irrelevant historical details and an undisguised prejudice on the part of the author.The book lacks a balance and is extremely one-sided and judgemental.

But despite all it’s obvious shortcomings, Lajja brings to light the tragedy of the Hindu minority in a country growing increasingly Islamist, despite the secular credentials of it’s constitution. It also helps one understand the recent faceoff between the liberalists and radicalists of Bangladeshi society following a court sentence against some key Jamaat-e-Islami leaders.I would recommend reading this book not for the accuracy of it’s facts but for understanding it’s underlying theme from a ground-zero perspective.

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Book Review : Difficult Daughters

No points for guessing why I picked up this book :) . Probably any young independent woman belonging to a traditional middle class family will identify easily with just the title of the book i.e if books were to be judged by their titles alone :) . Nevertheless, Difficult Daughters proves to be a good read with a racy plot set in the backdrop of India’s partition.

This novel is authored by Manju Kapur, who is a faculty in Miranda House, Delhi and references to whom I found in the Facebook wall of  one of my Miranda friends. The story explores the role of education in the life of Virmati, the main protaganist and her illicit relationship with a married Professor.The Professor falls in love with his student Virmati and inspires her to pursue higher education. He however lacks the guts to break free from his loveless marriage.Virmati, who is portrayed as more gullible but stronger of the two, declines another proposal for an arranged marriage, and hence draws the ire of her entire family.Her intellectual pursuits are as much marked by courage as marred by the sexual crave of her spineless lover and the lack of emotional support from her family. And the conclusion can neither be described as happy or sad, but difficult at best.

Though times are changing and our society is increasingly becoming more forward, marriage and not education is still considered as the ultimate goal in the life of a girl. Our society is still averse to the idea of an independent woman. And choosing to be an independent woman most often comes with a price. Though this is a work of fiction, the themes explored in the novel are very much real social issues.And all I can say is that anyone who is proud to be a woman or considers herself as a feminist even in the most subtlest of fashions, would definitely love this book :)

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Book Review : Untouchable

This was my first novel by the legendary Mulk Raj Anand.As the title suggests, the story revolves around the untouchable or the Harijan community of India and is set in the backdrop of British India.The author paints a very humane and poignant picture of a jamedar by the name of Bakha, and the discrimination he faces on account of his lower caste status.The story decribes a single day in the life of Bakha and all the trials and tribulations he has to overcome as he goes about his work of cleaning the latrines and sweeping the streets. While during the first half of the day he only receives a barrage of abuses and inhuman treatment, the latter half of the day actually brings a glimmer of hope as Bakha is confronted with three choices that can improve his life.

Reading about Untouchability in history books is one thing; reading this novel quite another. The story is eye-opening and leaves one feeling deeply sympathetic to the plight of  harijans and at the same time indignant at the inhuman behaviour of their perpetrators.I guess the most shameful incident in the book is when someone accidently touches Bakha in a busy street; he receives abuses and a beating and then for the remaining way, he has to warn others by shouting  ”posh, posh Sweeper coming”.

Reading this novel has left me with the impression that Mulk Raj Anand could be the Premchand of English literature.Though the story lacks a plot, a lot of attention is given to detail.Read this if you are a fan of Premchand or if you have a soft corner for social issues.

 

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Book Review : Train to Pakistan

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind

This 1956 novel by Khushwant Singh is set in the backdrop of the gruesome killings on the India Pakistan border that followed in the wake of partition.I always wanted to read a fictional story based on those times as the factual accounts are themselves a tad boring. This was also my first novel from Khushwant Singh.I must admit I have never been a great fan of his columns that used to come every weekend in The Telegraph (which was otherwise much appreciated by my Mom), but this novel has converted me into an ardent fan of the author.

Train to Pakistan has it all; all that’s required by a novel to become a  good read. A good plot, an awesome narrative, very well sketched and above all real characters, and raw emotion. Along the newly charted India Pakistan border is a small sleepy village inhabited by Sikhs and Muslims that has escaped the brutality and horrors of inter-caste killings that’s otherwise rampant in other villages.The trains running to and fro between India and Pakistan form a significant part of the village life. But this peace is threatened when a ghost train from Pakistan halts at the village. The main plot highlights the camrederie between the Sikhs and the Muslims of the village and how it stands the test of time. The other subplots deal with a Sikh goonda in love with a Muslim girl, a cunning District Commissioner having a fling with a muslim prostitute who is young enough to be his daughter,a Communist Party intellectual having the confusing name Iqbal who comes to the village to exhort the villagers to fight for their rights against the administration, and how the villain of the village ultimately saves the day and turns out to be it’s bravest hero.

This book does not have a single dull moment and you will be turning the pages with only increasing impatience and curiosity as the many plots unfold. A must read!!

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They Were All Honourable Men…

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.

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Yes, they were all honourable men.Men who had fought their way to the top; Men who were known for their hard work and integrity as much for their philanthropic contributions to society;Men who one could not speak of without a mark of reverence and awe;Men who had become household names for all the right reasons.That is, until their fall from grace.

And in almost all cases, GREED proved to be their undoing.Greed for money, Greed for power, even Greed for sex.Well, as Gordon Gekko would say, there was nothing wrong in their greed; if anything it only indicated their ambition; and ambition is good;it motivates you and takes you far.After all, who doesn’t want to be a Billionaire??

However, when this greed starts getting replaced with greed for making easy money, instead of creating wealth; When this greed starts to operate with scant respect for the laws of the land;When this greed requires the sacrifice of moral and ethical values as collateral; Then it is safe to say that the decline has begun!

And we the public who have reverred them, have an obligation not to let our passions get the better of us.We can feel sorry for them;But we should not let them become martyrs in our imaginations.We should not try to defend them on the basis of their good conduct or on the basis of their contribution to society.We should let the Law take it’s course;So that a strong message is sent to other wrong-doers who are also contemplating taking a plunge into this filth of greed under the expectation that they will not get caught.

Finally, I would like to recall the quote of the judge who indicted Rajat Gupta..

He is a good man.But the history of this country and the history of the world is full of examples of good men who did bad things

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I Am Back!!

After a gap of nearly five months, I am finally making a comeback to the world of blogging.Unfortunately, for a host of reasons, I could not make any significant contribution to this space. So, 2013 has not been a good start for my blogging activity, however now that I am better eqipped, both mentally as well as emotionally to do justice to my writing crave, I guess that means better days are ahead :) .

This year, while I was away from blogging, I was occupied by self-defence classes, fitness regimens in the office gym and a recultivation of reading as a hobby. I have also become a more regular reader of the daily newspaper. So you can expect some fitness related articles, book reviews and commentary on the political events, both domestic and international.Also, since now I am making better use of my ipad and my new Micromax smartphone, there are also some technology related pieces in the offing. And last but not the least, also look out for my posts on my undying love for cooking :)

Cheers to more lively times!!

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Painting on Glass

Glass Painting with Cherries Design

Cherries Design

Glass Painting with Peacock Design

Peacock Design

I always had this desire to learn glass painting since the time I was a kid. The interest though was acquired from my sister, who had attended glass painting classes and used to bring home her assignments. For some reason, I had this view that paintings on the glass medium not only require a lot of finesse but they also look very elegant.So I tried to look up places in Banglaore that offer classes in glass painting. There were numerous options, however either they were located too far or were too expensive or the timings were just not feasible. This prompted me to go through DIY videos posted on youtube as well as blogs written by enthusiastic glass painters.Well, there was  a huge treasure trove of information.It didn’t take me long to realize that I can at least attempt a few basic and simple designs. The final result is there for you to see :)

I picked up these designs from one of the three design books I had in my possession.Initially, I spent some time trying to pick up an appropriate design from the web, but to no avail.Picking the right design is very important, especially for beginners.The guiding principle was that the design should be simple, should not have too many intricate details, but should have large, simple and smooth curves that are easy to trace.Also, it should not require too many colours or any unique colour that’s obtained by blending of colours.Keeping this in mind, I finalized on the above two designs.

A minimum requirement for glass painting are glass liners, glass paints(waterbased and non-waterbased), and the glass surface itself.The design is first traced on paper which is then fixed under the glass surface.Using the outliner, the design is then traced on the glass.After allowing the outline to dry, paint is filled into the required areas.When framing the picture, a crushed silver foil is used as backdrop for visual effects.Acetone or nail polish remover can be used to wipe out any paint that spills, even though the outliner should ideally prevent the same. A cutter can be used for evening or thinning the outline.Alternatively, a permanent black marker can also be used for outlining in intricate places.Also, it is very important to ensure that bubbles do not form when filling the paint.If they do form, however, a safety pin or toothpick can be used for bursting them immediately.It is also advisable for beginners to use waterbased paints that can be pumped out, so that a brush need not be used.

Of the two paintings above, the cherries were comparatively simpler.For the peacock,I had to put in more time and effort, especially in getting the outline perfected.Overall, I feel the biggest pressure point for glass paintings is the outline and ensuring that the paint is spread evenly, without bubbles.An uneven jagged outline can spoil the beauty of the whole work.But having said that, glass painting is also one of the simplest forms of painting that require relatively lesser time.

Finally, I would like to sign off on the note that I think I didn’t do too bad a job for a beginner :)

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Best Out of Waste – Part 1

Flower Vase made with Waste Material

Flower Vase

My mom has always been a great fan of creating useful things out of waste material. In fact, when my mom is staying with me, she doesn’t let me dispose off the waste stuff :) . And in case I argue, she throws at me a bunch of ideas of how to make useful craft from the waste material. Well, of late I have started seeing some merit in her ideas :) . The below two creations are an output of that.

This was a candle in a glass showpiece that I had purchased during my Ooty trip. One day, there was a powercut and I didn’t have any candles at home, so I decided to use this showpiece candle. Needless to say, the showpiece didn’t remain a showpiece any more. The glass got blackened from soot and the wax became rubbery and blackish. So I thought of turning it into a flower vase instead. I dished out all the spoilt wax, washed the glass properly to remove the black stains and then wrapped it with a thick red thread( which i got for a few rupees in one of the mobile stalls). It’s not complete as I am planning to make some artificial flowers which I can then put in the vase.Hopefully that will make for another post :)

Pen Stand made with Waste Material

Pen Stand

This is a pen-stand made with a baked beans can. I had collected some of the ads that come in glossy paper along with your daily newspaper.Alternatively, you can also make this with magazine paper. Roll the paper and secure it with fevicol.Cut all the rolls to same height as that of can. Next stick the rolled sheets on the can with fevicol.

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