Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Sexy @ Sixty by Namita Jain

Book – Sexy @ Sixty – Health & Beauty at every age
Author – Namita Jain
Publisher – Westland Ltd.
ISBN – 978-93-81626-63-4
Price – 200 INR
Pages – 202
Genre – Health/Wellness

From the jacket

Sexy at sixty. Is that possible? Namita Jain, the prestigious wellness expert, shows you how in Sexy @ Sixty, which is a celebration of this wondrous phase in your life. She aims to make it even more wonderful by giving you enough ammunition, in the form of many helpful tips on lifestyle, food, exercise and staying positive, to slay the bugbears that threaten to rain on your parade. Aimed at the modern notsoyoung man or woman, the book is full of practical, easyto understand information:

  • Tables showing you the exact calorie count of your meals ,
  • Illustrations for safe ways to exercise, whether by gentle stretches or strength training,
  • Chapters on how to tackle everything from skin care and weight gain to stress, arthritis and diabetes,
  • Easy to follow explanations for menopause or pros tate issues.

Join Namita Jain as she shows you the way to health and beauty at every age!

My review

Can you climb up three flights of steps without gasping for breath? Do you sleep well? Do you wake up most mornings looking forward to the day? Do you go for a walk, visit the gym, play a sport or engage in some other energetic activity at least thrice a week? Do you eat wholesome, nutritious food? Do you relax and take time out without feeling stressed?

These are some questions Namita Jain asks you in the book, and triggers your own string of thoughts. 

In the beginning, Jain talks about being a couch potato and how it leads to the horrible battle against the bulge. She goes on to talk about metabolism, hypertension, the good & bad cholesterol and our heart. A little later in the book, Jain discusses some major health scares of old age like diabetes, menopause, osteoporosis, prostate, arthritis, stress busters and wrinkles. Jain has simplified a healthy life and here is a book which will tell you being fit is easy and not a mammoth task!

The book is peppered with Jain's real life experiences with clients, and their success stories. It's always inspirational to know about people who have battled the bulge and are not leading a happy and healthy life! 

The chapter about Osteoporosis was specially interesting for me, as my mother is suffering because of it. Reading through, I was confident most of us would find solutions to ailments our parents are suffering from.

The books talks about simple exercises in standing, sitting and lying positions along with instructions as well as illustrations. It also includes some simple recipes of dishes like gajar ka halwa, a dish we normally avoid fearing calories. But, lo and behold! With Jain's recipe, you can definitely tuck in a bowl at times!

Words like diabetes, cholesterol etc scare us, normally. Jain has, in simple terms, explained the whats, the hows and the whys of these health problems. Jain also tells us about simple things like correct posture and breathing techniques - something we do know about, but ignore. If not taken care of, these two things might lead to averse conditions in our bodies.

Menopause has been discussed at length in the book. Starting from what to eat and what to exercise; to answering basic yet important questions that many menopausal women have in mind.

Though the name suggests good health for the old, I'd suggest the young read it too! Namita Jain imparts basic information about food types, body essentials and how we can tackle bigger problems by just including the right foods in our diet! Along with natural methods of staying fit, Jain has also discussed cosmetology, which gives you a fair idea about what is in store. Towards the end of the book, Jain also gives a tabled infoview of food types which can be taken for different types of vitamins, folic acid, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. 

So, what are you waiting for? Why wait till 60, start now, at 25!

My rating: 3.5/5

NOTE: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: There Was No One At The Bus Stop by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay

by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay
Published in Bengali in 1975
Published in English translation by Penguin India, 2010
No. of pages 121
Price Rs 150/-

From the jacket
Love was one thing, sin was another—and although it was difficult to tell love from sin, Trina had learnt to identify some of the signs. 

Set in Calcutta in the 1970s, There Was No One at the Bus Stop is a powerful exploration of adultery and its overwhelming consequences.
Trina, a married woman, impulsively decides one day to stop living a lie and walks out on her husband, daughter and son, in whose lives she no longer plays a role. But will she be able to sever the bonds and join the man she loves in his home? The man, Debashish, is haunted by his wife’s recent suicide and is tormented by the possibility that his young son would rather live away from him.
Through spare prose and searing dialogue, this novel unfolds over twelve hours on a single day. It reveals the often complex reasons that hold human relationships together and the motives that break them apart.
About the author

Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay a Bengali author, has also penned thrillers like Shada Beral, Kalo Beral, and even started a series with detective Shabar Dasgupta in the lead. But the series was not successful, so he discontinued writing it.

PatalGhor, Kaagajer Bou, Nabiganjer Daitto, Hirer Angti, Sadhubabar Lathi, Gosainbaganer Bhoot and Chhayamoy are amongst his novels which have been adapted as films. 

My review

For a probashi Bangali to be able to read, write and talk the mother tongue, is a rare feat; I have been doing so since childhood. But, while my speech is pretty eloquent, I read and write haltingly. Lack of practice. During my summer vacations, when I was seven, my maternal grandparents had painstakingly taught be the Bangla alphabet (বাংলা লিপি) 

Because I read haltingly, I lose patience at times. This topic definitely deserves another blog post, but first, about the story.

I had read Sankar's Chowringhee and The Middle Man, translated from Bengali to English, by Arunava Sinha earlier. When translations go, Sinha's work comes closest to perfection in my opinion. Of course, the writer's intent can be best understood in the original language the story was written, but, Sinha brings the flavours out with utmost ease. 

Originally published in Bengali in 1974, There Was No One At The Bus Stop explores adultery in the world of upper middle class, cosmopolitan Calcutta, an issue that is extremely familiar to the world of the Indian writer in English.

Trina, the novella's self-involved and frustrated female protagonist, has embarked on an adulterous affair with Debashish, her neighbor from across the street. Debashish was someone she used to know as a child and meets again as a married woman with two grown up kids. Deb is shown as a widower whose glamorous but empty-headed wife has committed suicide before the story begins. 

After his wife's death, Deb and his son are growing apart. Trina, frustrated and suffocated in her marriage, feeling useless at being ostracised from the lives of her independent children, debates leaving her family. She lives a life of guilt, always imagining her husband and children looking down upon her, because she was having an affair with Deb.

Very skilfully, Mukhopadhyay depicts the cultured suffocation of the upper middle class in this story, specially through his fevered exploration of the inner and outer worlds of his characters, and the carefully developed sense of boredom that looms large over the lives of his protagonists.

The story is seemingly plot less, without a clear cut sense of resolution. Mukhopadhyay takes us to a familiar, much explored world. This story tells us of the anglicized, upper middle class urban families from the seventies, and skilfully reveals the truth and the farce behind the curtains. You would be frustrated if you are expecting an adventure with some definite end, to this story. If you understand literature, you will be taken on a flight with your imagination and you will be living those 12 hours of a Sunday, with Deb, Trina, Robi, Sachin, Manu, Reba and Phuli.

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ek HAI Tiger!

Ok, no brownie points for guessing, I love Salman Khan. I love him from the time I'd seen the credits in the beginning of Maine Pyaar Kiya. Love had gone for a toss, when he turned into a bad boy, but hey, he served jail for it. And, as of today, he is only doing good, as a person. Haters will still object, but like the world cares!

So, Ek Tha Tiger released today. Unintentionally, I ended up with First Day First Show tickets. Yeah, 09:15 am! Last time I did that was back in college - catching a movie during college hours. Thrilling?!! 

So, whatever, both S and I were on your seats before 09:15 am, barely able to open our eyes. We look around, houseful. *oh yeah!*

I don't need to tell you the story, right? Well, here's a little bit: Salman, with code name Tiger, is an intelligence officer at RAW. An underutilised Girish Karnad is his boss, and and over utilised Ranvir Shorey, whose name is Gopi, but the look is kinda Muslim, is his aide. So, while on a mission, Tiger meets Zoya and almost woos her, when he learns she is an ISI agent. He shoots at her, right before intermission. Nothing great in terms of story in the next half, but I'd rather not include spoilers. 

Locales are not so great. Cuba, Kazakhstan ... not much to see. Dublin wasn't shown much of. Also, what kept going through my mind was, why do all Kabir Khan movies have a Muslim angle? Either countries or characters. Too clichéd, if you ask me!

There are only two things I have in my mind after watching Ek Tha Tiger:
1. Salman and Katrina need to get back together. In all fairness, neither is that great an actor, to fake the chemistry. They are meant to be together, and they should. The love, still shows.

2. Salman isn't an actor, per se. He still rakes in the moolahs. Your other talented and intelligent actors, need to act for an iota of what his films earn. Argue as much as you want, you cannot change this fact. The man has style, attitude and the power to woo his fans. 

In the song, Saiyaara, Zoya is shown wearing a white frock and goooorgeous red high heels in the first scene. Next scene, till the end of the song, she is shown wearing silver high heels. At another moment, when  Zoya is checking the stage lights and dances with Tiger, her hair is shown as all-open and then suddenly its tied. Poor editing.

There have been better stunts in other films, but I loved them. Call me biased or whatever. But Salman's introduction shot was whistle-worthy and so was the one in the end, where he jumps on to the helicopter. Katrina's stunts were niiice! A girl doing stunts is one of the coolest things!

Over all, Ek Tha Tiger might be a max 3star film, but Salman kept his fans happy. He looked good, danced cute, moved his tush adorably and did some awesome stunts. There was this couple on this screen, I loved to see together. I might watch it again, but hey ... go check it out for yourself! 

Psst: 'Tha' doesn't always mean dead, silly! Stop believing BBM forwards!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer

Title:                   Love Virtually
Author:                Daniel Glattauer
Genre:                 Novel
Written:               2006 (Eng. 2011)
Length:                223 pages
Original in:           German
Availability:          Love Virtually - US
                          Love Virtually - UK
                          Love Virtually - Canada
                          Love Virtually - India
                          Quand souffle le vent du nord - France
                          Gut gegen Nordwind - Deutschland
                          Le ho mai raccontato del vento del Nord - Italia
German title:        Gut gegen Nordwind
Translated by Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie BullochN

Summary of the story:

It begins by chance : Leo receives e-mails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and desires. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment – the prospect both excites and unsettles them. And after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter?
And if so, what then?

My review:

Love Virtually, (originally published as ‘Gut gegen Nordwind’ in German), is an international best seller. A love story, which begins ... and ends via emails, Love Virtually, is what one can call an ideal book to read on journeys, or when you are stuck in bed all day, with a sore throat and running nose, sipping on hot soup. 

Emmi, a 'happily married' woman of thirty four, accidentally sends an email to Leo, from where they begin to converse a bit .. which leads to as many as 28 emails exchanged with in five hours on a certain day. 

Emmi and Leo, move from being absolute strangers to getting to know each other bit by bit. Each page you turn, would make you think, "Will the meet?" and towards the end, when they finally decide to meet, your excitement will beat their's, I can bet!

Love Virtually is a tightly packed novel, showcasing the events spread through 7-8 months. The two characters share their joys and some sorrows, mostly random, trying to know each other.

If you yourself are a part of the social networks, believe me, you will identify with Emmi and Leo, and the end will leave you wondering. Yes, wondering. What you wonder, might vary.

Give this book a try. But be patient reading the mails exchanged. Live life with Emmi and Leo.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review: Secret of the Scribe by Douglas Misquitta

Secret of the Scribe (SoTS) is yet another intriguing tale by Douglas Misquita after Haunted. In SoTS, the plot and the adventure is completely different where a highly futuristic technology is unveiled and we are taken on a hair-raising expeditions through ancient sites.

Summary: A cave-expedition to the remote borders of China and Tibet unearth enigmatic discs that are believed to be of extraterrestrial origin. But their discovery is quickly squashed and erased from official records. When venture capitalist Mark Steinberg launches Linguistics, Inc. and unveils cutting-edge Nanotechnology-based communication, an enthralled human race is ready to proclaim the written and spoken word a thing of the past. But unknown to the world, Linguistics is setting the stage for total control. Leading the scattered resistance movement, Lance Michener wants to shut down the Linguistics network before the damage is total and irreversible. At the center of the conflict is the hunt for the mythical Book of Thoth - the Book of Wisdom of the Gods; a Book that contains the secrets of the language of all earthly species and languages yet unknown. And as Linguistics ushers in an era of global mind control, the race is on to prevent The Book from falling into the wrong hands.

Review: Yet again, Misquita packs in a fast-paced complex narration, that makes you flip back-and-forth through pages, along with his characteristic choreography of action scenes.The plot differs a lot from his first book, but it once again a fast paced page turner. The book is action-packed right from the get go. The book transports you to various locales, each vividly described. Fast paced and unputdownable, I give this book ***/5.

- S

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

With an overdose of a hullaboo around, and so many people recommending Fifty Shades of Grey, I finally placed an order for the first two books of the trilogy, earlier last month. Why two? Umm..don't ask me, I don't know. If it was a hit just in India, I might have simply labelled it as easily available erotica and ignored it. But, world over ...

I read the first few pages and honestly, I found it slow. Meanwhile, another friend read it. And, another. Out of curiosity, I picked it up again. 

Christian Grey had me hooked. He played with my mind. Not so much with his sexual preferences, as much as the man he was. Am pretty sure, most women will agree, we've met him. In my case, I've met him six times. Maybe met 4, known another and lived with one in the past. The dominance in character is not very common; yet is common.

Characterisation wasn't very strong. I personally know people in similar relationships and Anastasia's transition from being a virgin to a willing sub, without signing the contract, wasn't very realistic. Despite so many sex scenes, it wasn't really titillating, to say the least. 

When Christian introduced Anastasia to his mother and then the rest of the family, somewhere the fantasy got smudged in my head. The relationship started looking 'vanilla'. My experience of dominant men speaks differently. A common link between all is a troubled mind.  

The story was nice. Well-written, but no big deal. It did progress very nicely, but the end, where Anastasia breaks up with Christian was abrupt. Yes, there is a sequel. But, this was an individual story, and from a reader's point of view, it should have finished at its own pace. 

It's not a bad book per se, but to me its a very thick Mills & Boon. And like I do with M&Bs, I skipped through the pages describing them having sex. These descriptions have been read so many times, there was nothing new. Don't go by my words here, I finished reading most of Sydney Sheldon's sex-heavy books by the time I was 16. I am hoping the next book in the sequel will be more enticing.

If I finished the book, it was coz of good and smooth easy-read sort of writing. And, Christian Grey. He played with my mind for four days. 

This is no critic's choice, but there is no reason why you shouldn't read it either! Read it as a story, not as erotica. Trust me, there is much better erotica out there. You'l read this, only because it has sex ... not because it has a captivating story. Of course, if you want to read good literature which is racy as well, I suggest DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover.

Laters guys ;-)

- S

#BookReview : The Shrine of Death by Divya Kumar

On the jacket:  Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in Chennai, is plunged into a murky world of idol theft, murder, and betrayal aft...