Monday, November 30, 2009

What reviews should be all about, IMHO

I visit a lot of book / movie review sites - sometimes intentionally and sometimes not so. In many of these places, I find that often a synopsis disguises itself as the 'review'. Which is not what I wanted to read. Led me to wonder... What is a review? What do people expect when they look for a book/movie review?

My assumption is that a reader who stops at a review has not yet got hold of the book or seen the movie. So naturally the first thing he would want to know is, "Is the book/movie any good - is it worth my money?"

Which is what I look for in reviews, and which is why my reviews are the way they are. I sometimes do not even speak about the theme. My reviews only speak about what I felt about it. What I dis/liked about it. What to look out for in the movie. Probably that is not what others would want...

However, one of my friends who read my review of Slumdog Millionaire, said that it helped her set a base, otherwise she would perhaps have not sat through the movie at all.

Check out my Book Reviews and Movie Reviews here.
Let me know what you expect when you come across a review?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Memories of a Terror Attack

I don't think the Mumbai Terror Attack of Nov 26, 2008, is something that anyone can easily forget - not only Mumbaikars or other Indians, but anyone who has remote connections to India. (Probably the whole world, but I do not know how keenly the World followed the 60-hour drama which claimed a lot of innocent and brave lives.)

Indian Media (with a touch of pride, I suspect) called it India's 9/11 ("Why does the US have all the fun?!") and petnamed it "26/11".

One TV channel carried discussions titled "Enough is Enough", debating on whether Enough is really Enough, or there is more to Enough to attain the Ultimate Enough.

There were candlelit crowds around Martyr's Monuments and War Memorials in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and elsewhere, grieving, burning posters of politicians who did not heed the Intelligence flimsies that had hinted at such an attack.

Heads rolled, Ministers were ousted, Resignations, Finger-pointing, Tough dialogue-deliveries and other melodrama were enacted. Everyone stirred and sat up with an excited pounding of the heart to hope (though History has shown repeatedly that in some cases, hope is a misplaced emotion) that a Change is coming. (The Change that did come, happened to land in the US.)

All that lasted for perhaps a month. Or two. People went back to their lives - except those who lost their dear ones, for whom the life that was ripped apart could never be stitched together again. If we start talking about them - the victims, the martyrs and their families - ten blogs won't be enough.

The Politicians went back to their seats with a sigh of relief: Whew. That was tough, but that is now behind us.

And the lone terrorist who was caught (on camera and) by the NSG? Oh, he is right now enjoying life in some obscure maximum-security prison, stuffing himself with biriyanis and sipping soft drinks, reading books, appearing once in a while to a remote Indian court, weeping and grinning in the public eye, making contradictory statements that the newspapers carry on Page-1, managing to make an absolute mockery of Indian Judicial System, telling himself that "this is the life, back in the village it was Hell", while folks around the world shake their heads in admiration at the justice even a terrorist gets in the Great Nation of India (he even has an Indian advocate to defend him!).

As always, six to eight months after 26/11, there was a dip in everyone's interests because nothing worth a paise was happening, Kasab's court jests retreated to inner pages and smaller columns, and there were other juicy scams, controversies, internal terrorism and gossip to worry about. All of a sudden, very close to the first anniversary, appears Mr.'Head'ley who apparently has a mixed-up Pak-American head on his shoulders, who had been agitating his friends to "retaliate against India" for God-knows-what. So the Press picks it up as well, as a First Anniversary tribute, and runs pages upon pages on him. Will this trail die out the way others did?

A lesson that the media was taught from the 26/11 episode was never to telecast live operations of the kind because the terrorists were getting a live feed of NSG's movements, whereas the NSG did not have any way of knowing their location. But whether the media learnt their lesson remains to be seen.

God save my Nation.

Post Script. One remembers the justice that Saddam Hussein got; and he was not even responsible for 9/11.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My first Newspaper Article!

If someone tells you that social networking sites are a waste of time, refer them to me.

Once upon a time I too thought so, but no longer. They are a waste of time if all you do there is chat. Even then, one would manage to pick up some good news or information or gyan - at least to improve one's GK!

I did a U-turn regarding my take on Social Networking sites a couple of months ago when I started following the 'right' people with the 'right' interests. I was able to participate at the Bangalore Book Festival because of a chance tweet from Pothi.Com that I could easily have missed, but didn't. And now, thanks to Gopinath Mavinkurve whom I met through Blogger/Twitter, I have had my first newspaper article published, in the New Indian Express.

Curiously enough, the article is regarding Twitter!

Click to enlarge

A Great Big Thank You is due to my dear friends Prema and Ninan of Kochi who facilitated this through a friend of theirs.

Click here to read the online version:
(Again Gopinath Mavinkurve has helped locate this link!!!!!)

Do tell me if you like the article!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoughts for the Week

I usually post the "Thoughts" on the Weekend, but the last two days I have been suffering from Blogger's Block, so the semi-brilliant ideas refused to flow in. There was no dearth of Tweeting ideas where I have been chatting to glory but that's a different tale. Am back to my abnormal self, so here is the Weekly Dose of Wisdom. 

1. The less we depend on someone else, the easier for us to handle their negligence or thoughtlessness.

2. My son lost the little bulging eye of his favourite plastic sticker (free with Sunfeast Pasta Treat) and went around complaining, "I lost an eye!"

3. If you knock at 400 doors, 4 may open. All the 400 doorkeepers will promise that the door will be opened soon, though.

4. My son asks me, What does God do when He is thirsty? Where does He drink water from?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Munnu turns Four!

My little baby turns four today. Amazing - where have the years gone?

Wasn't it yesterday that I was walking around like the proud Mother-to-be, showing off my tummy?
Wasn't it just hours ago that he arrived, three weeks ahead of due date (on his Grandfather's birthday), giving me less than an hour of labour pain, and I was so relieved to see him healthy, that I couldn't stop myself from giving him a hundred kisses?

And then I would speak to him a million sweet nothings that made sense to no one else but him and me?

And then suddenly one morning he started smiling, and another day he turned over on his tummy, sat up, started talking, walking, questioning, and became the amazing explorer he is now!

He has learnt to do everything himself - putting on his shirt and pants, buttoning his shirt, taking bath, eating, even helping me make chapathis - he keeps up at it till he masters it, even after I have long given up trying to teach.


How little it takes to make him happy - a chocolate, an evening walk, a bed-time story, a favourite program in TV!


When he learns his numbers, how sweet he sounds when he says "twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten!"

On his fourth birthday, I would wish for him what I pray every day - for a life of keeping himself and others happy, following and attaining his dreams, strength and courage to overcome the inevitable lows of life!

Happy Birthday, dear Munnu!

Previous posts :
Flowers for Mother
At the Doctor's
More Questions
Being With my son
Mastering Language

Monday, November 16, 2009

Challenges or Signs?

My friend sounded quite unhappy when I spoke to her yesterday. Her worry was her job. She likes the domain of work, but is not happy with the challenges (or lack of it) that she is faced with. I tell her to look for a change. Due to some limitations, she is unable to find another one.
"Take a break," I suggest, "and spend time with your daughter, and probably look for a job later."
She says, "Would it not be a sin to leave the job that God has given me?"
"Maybe God wants you to take a break. Which is why He is making you feel so unhappy. Maybe this is His sign."
She is doubtful. "What if it is the Devil trying to provoke me?"

I am certain of it. The hurdles that Destiny throws at us every now and then are not always challenges that we are expected to cross over. Often, they are warnings from our Guardian Angel, to keep us safe.

Like, someone's lost ticket to the Titanic.
We probably are not expected to move mountains and get ourselves another ticket.

Like, power going down when we are about to hit 'Send' on an already delayed, very important business mail.
When power comes back, we see another mail that came in ten minutes after power went out, which would have made our mail redundant, or worthless, even foolish, had we sent it.

Like, forgetting the key of the house and finding ourselves unable to get in after a tiring day's work.
We spend one or two hours at the neighbour's place where we never had time to visit, and feel refreshed by the time the spouse comes home with the spare key to let us in.

Like, giving in to a screaming child who refuses to go to school all of a sudden.
We find that the school was closed that day and we had not seen the holiday list.

Like, finding yourself unable to handle the pressure of work and home.
Perhaps it is time we looked for a change. In career or life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Week That Was - The Adventures of a Calendar

Who would have thought that a Calendar, even an exceptional one as Margaret Shulock's, would be part of an adventure? The Adventurous Journey of a Calendar from Friendship, New York, to Bangalore. And the Part-2, the payment process, is yet to begin! Margaret tells me, I am the first person from India to purchase her calendar in the 15 years she has been creating it!

Hey, you folks don't know what you are missing! If you like the above pictures of Margaret's calendar and would like to get one, participate in her Caption contest, and the winner gets to choose between her calendar and her greeting cards. If you wish to purchase, do leave a comment here or at Margaret's blog.

In case you don't know, Margaret Shulock is one of the six very talented women who draw the Six Chix cartoon strips. Which appears only in one Mumbai-based newspaper in India (I forget which! Can anyone enlighten me?)

You can see the cartoon strips from the widget at the Six Chix site (on the right frame).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Week that Was - Changes up here

So you noticed? I wanted to change the blog template itself, but blogger gave me no good choices. The ones available have had no update to them in more than a year, and I really don't want to change my template to something that another of my friends has.
The change in title was in the pipeline for quite a while, and when it happened, I chose to change the colour rather than select a bad template.
Do you like the new look?

I finally did something that my friend Nikhil had been suggesting all along. I created a Facebook profile. So far I had bravely repelled the pressures from my friends (including him) who tried to tempt me by uploading photos there (the darn site needs a registration before it shows us snaps), who boasted of 500 Facebook friends, and so on.

So what did I find on registering at FaceBook?
A load of old friends who prefer FaceBooking to Emailing, for reasons unknown. (I personally prefer Emails. At least, until now.)
Friends I haven't seen in 10-15 years, and barely recognise.
Friends who are in unbelievable positions in enviable locations around the World.

Having been on Twitter for a while, I took two steps back on encountering FaceBook. Twitter is so very simple, with minimal links and activities. And yet, it took me days to get used to it. In FaceBook, you can Message, Mail, Chat, Wall, Nudge, Poke, Scream, Hit, Kick, ..., besides playing a variety of games (none of which I attempted so far - I am already groggy seeing the million things in my Homepage or whatever it is called). By mistake I forgot to accept a friendship request from someone, and have no clue how to find him again.

Speak of the travails of Networking!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The ArTicKles Collection

I came across Gopinath Mavinkurve quite by accident. I was googling for information on the Bangalore Book Festival-'09, and stumbled on his blog regarding his book. To my pleasant surprise, I found that he too was a self-published author, putting up his books for sale at Pothi.Com, just as I was!

I checked out his book The ArTicKles Collection at the Festival, and was intrigued by the description "ArTicKles, articles and more." I thought, aren't 'ArTicKles' and 'articles' pretty much the same? Besides, he has guaranteed "Humour for everyone." I had to buy it.

The book is a humorous read, there is no doubt about that. The author's light-hearted take on a variety of subjects would make us smile. It was curious to note that many of the articles are in the first person - I am sure he is not as eccentric as he portrays himself to be; I believe he accumulated all the oddnesses of people around him and put them all on his own head, not to offend anyone.There are a few very informative subjects as well, regarding language, many of which were new to me. The Limericks made me ROFL - just as he predicted. I found the English translations of Hindi phrases to be redundant, till I realised that some of his readers may need them.

By the end of the book, I discovered what the difference between 'ArTicKle' and 'article' was!

The ArTicKles Collection is available for purchase at Click here to check it out. (You can see the first 10 pages preview as well.)
The author has an interesting blog, in fact many of the articles in the book are originally from his blog. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flowers for Mother

My son is a very keen observer. From the time he was very small, he has surprised us with the speed at which he noticed and picked up our habits, our actions, and when he started speaking sentences (and he started quite early),  he began asking the Whys and Wherefores of everything. In fact, so much so that sometimes I have to ask him (rather sternly) to stop the queries for a while, when I speak to someone on the phone.

He is rather addicted to Cartoon channels, a practice we increasingly encouraged (though hesitantly at first) because that was the only way we could get him to sit still for a few minutes.

So it was that one day a few months ago, while he was watching the adventures of Tom & Jerry, (a 100th rerun episode) he came to me and asked, "Does Tom like girl-cats very much?"
I said cautiously, "It appears so." I was rather worried about where the conversation was heading; explaining romance to a three-year-old was not what I was prepared for.
He asked me after a pause, "And do girls like flowers very much?" Tom was apparently handing out flowers to the women in the area.
"Oh, yes," I said, "Girls generally like flowers very much."
He thought about this for a while, and asked no further questions. I was relieved.

A couple of days later, when we went out for a walk, suddenly he ran towards some flowers and plucked one, before I could stop him - it was from someone else' garden. I launched into a lecture of it not being nice to pluck flowers, aren't they more beautiful on the plant? and so on, when he gave it to me and said, "Flowers for you - you are a girl. You like flowers."

I was speechless. From then on, he has made it a habit to give me flowers every time we go out for a walk, and I gently remind him not to pluck from the garden, and only from the bushes on the roadside. I often tell myself I should carry a camera when we go next, to capture this cute picture of him running to me with a tiny flower, but always would remember only later. Once I did, and shot this - he was too quick for my lens and ended up a little off-focus, nevertheless, here it is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fall

I was somewhere amidst the clouds.
And it felt good.
Suddenly I was let go.
I found myself floating.
The scene below was fascinating,
I could see far and wide.
I did not notice I was descending
Till the Earth had risen to me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

India Tweets - Interesting Tweets about India, in 140 words

A few days ago, I was invited to contribute at the blog "India Tweets". Needless to say, I accepted it with delight.

India Tweets is an incredible idea conceived by Vinod Sharma who has brought together a group of bloggers to write Anything India, in 140 words. Even better, he invites readers to contribute! In his own words, "No rules, except 140 words and related to India." If you haven't visited the blog already, do now to read off-beat and varied tweets about India - and all in 140 words!

About the origin of this idea? Vinod says, "The idea for a 140 word came to me from Twitter itself. 140 characters are too few, but in 140 words one can tell a full story."

And just now I noticed that the total number of posts at India Tweets now is 140!

Amazing, eh?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blogging for Beginners

[Seasoned bloggers can either skip this post or provide your thoughts and comments!]

Disclaimer: At the very outset, I am aware that I am not an authority on blogging. Not even close. Some of my friends send me mails with their opinion/thoughts on my blog posts, and when I ask them why they don't post the same as comments (the whole world knows by now that comments make me very happy), their answer is that they "don't write very well," their "language is not good enough" and so on. I don't pretend to understand what they mean, when their mails look quite well-written to me, but... whatever. So this post is meant for those friends of mine, and anyone else who strays into my world, to tell them that if they want to improve their writing, the answer is Blogging.

1. Start a blog. Don't think about what you are going to write and how. Just register. The most popular blog sites these days are and There may be others. Choose one and register.

2. Decide the Blog URL. You are required to give the blog a suitable name (blog URL) when you register. The URL is your handle that remains unchanged through rain or shine, so you can be careful on this one. I believe allows changing the URL later, but your readers who have linked to you may find the sudden disappearance of your blog bewildering, so unless you intentionally want to disappear off the face of Cyberworld, keep the URL constant.

3. Identify the Title. The title of the blog, more or less describes the topic you wish to blog about. So this is when you start thinking about the contents. It can be about Cooking, Gardening, Reading and Books, Motherhood, or even without a specific area - like mine. I write about Books, Movies, Places, Motherhood, Experiences from Life, and so on. The title can be edited at any time later, so it is okay to start with one thought and later modify it if required.

4. Public or Private? It is your choice. If you are not confident about your writing and would rather not have people read it till you are ready, make it 'Private'. Or, leave it as 'Public', but don't inform anyone. (FYI, Public Blogs would bring visitors from search engines.) Once you become confident and want people to read, you can change the setting and start broadcasting your blog.

5. Write frequently. Just write what comes to mind. Even if they are only a few halting sentences at first, it is fine. Keep writing. The words and thoughts will start flowing. You will be amazed at the outcome. Before hitting the 'Publish' button, just look back once to see if you are satisfied. There is no hurry; if you aren't satisfied, take some time to edit it. However, don't allow large gaps between your posts. Maximum one week, not more. Otherwise, you will lose enthusiasm, your readers will lose interest, they will forget to come back to check for your updates, and your blog will die a white-dwarf death like many others.

6. Get Motivated to blog. Once you start posting, ideas for new posts will come up at every turn, every day. That itself will give you the motivation to write. Blog while the thought is fresh.

7. Leave the comment option open. It is better to allow anonymous comments, because a majority of visitors don't bother to login to post a comment. You can turn 'comment moderation' option ON, so that every comment goes through your scanner before being published at the site. Again, that is your choice.

8. Leave your trail. If you visit others' blogs and post comments, make sure you mention your blog URL (there is usually a field for website URL; otherwise if you login to post comments, the URL will appear automatically), so that they visit you back.

9. Advertisements. You may be tempted to add Google Ads and the like to the site, to allow the promised dollars to flow into your bank account, but this may be too far-fetched a hope. I may be wrong as I have never added Google Ads to my blog, but some of my friends who have, tell me that making money out of Ads requires a combination of knack and luck and patience. Your choice; though I would suggest not cluttering the blog with advertisements. I have seen blogs that have ads at the top, seeing which I abruptly close the page.

10. Visitor Statistics. Use Google Analytics or such Visitor Statistics Analyzer tools to keep an eye on the visitors. I find it interesting to see where my visitors came from, and what they read, especially when I get hits from Google/Yahoo Search Engines. You can leave links to your blog at Facebook, Twitter and other Networking sites to bring more visitors, if you like.

11. It's your blog, but give credits. No one has the right to tell you what to write in your blog and what not to, or how to - as long as you don't use your blog to insult/offend anyone. You have the freedom to write what you want. However, if you borrow thoughts, ideas or images from any other sites, give due credit, by a mention and/or a link.

12. Read, Read, Read. This should have been item#1 in this list. If you attempt Writing without backing it up with sufficient Reading, it will be like spending cash without having any inflow - you are eventually bound to run out of money. Though in this case, you may not really 'run out' of words, it is always good to keep your vocabulary replenished.

Remember - if you enjoy writing, others will enjoy reading it.

If you think I missed something out, please use the comment option below to bring it to my attention!

Friday, November 6, 2009

BBF-09 and the Stall of @Pothidotcom

( I am back-posting this blog as KSEB(Electricity) and BSNL(Internet) conspired against me last night, and I want this to go with Friday's date, when I actually composed it..)
The seventh edition of the Bangalore Book Festival has taken off at the Palace Grounds, Mekhri Circle, today. Even though the fair was opened in the morning, the formal inauguration took place at 5(-ish) in the evening. I have been a regular at the Book Fest the last couple of years, dropping in at least twice during the ten days, and picking up a bunch of books. I did not know that this year, I would drop in there as a nail-biting participant whose books are on sale and who hopes that the visitors grab her books as soon as they set their eyes on it.

I visited the stall of with my son, and also wandered around the other stalls. Being a week day and the first day of the fair, the visitors were minimal, the women at the ticket counter were free enough to give me a big smile and share pleasantries, and I had difficulty in dodging a person at a stall who was after me trying to sell educational stuff for my son - I was perhaps the first visitor with a child. Darn, I had to leave my phone number with her.
But,... Boy! What an awesome collection of books. There were over 320+ stalls, truly it was a Book Feast for the eyes.

Below are some of the snaps of stall and my book smiling from there.

From the lens of Pothi.Com

Spot my book!

Jaya and Abhay at the stall, they are calling my son to pose for the photo with them!
My Book on display at the desk too.

In case you wish to visit Pothi.Com stall and check out my book, please note the stall number, 288 (closer to the Exit), lest you be overwhelmed by the countless stalls and titles and miss this one out!! 

Thematic Photographic 74 - Red

Posted for Thematic Photographic Challenge at Carmi's blog

My Little Krishna during the Sree Krishna Jayanthi celebrations at our apartment

Munnu fast asleep - Winter of '07

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Airlines and Attitudes

This is an old incident, when my son was a year+ old and at his scampering and restless best. He and I were to fly out of Bangalore for the vacation in J- Airways. As expected during holiday season, the crowd in the old airport (HAL) was spilling over to the lounge outside. After our bags were checked in, we had to stand in a queue (for the security check) for an hour - my little restless man and I. After about 45 minutes of it - during which I was repeating umpteen times to him 'not to run away, you will get lost' - a KingFisher Airlines representative came to me and asked which flight I was on. I showed her my ticket. She suggested I ask someone from my Airlines to help me through the security check, since I was with a small child. I looked around, found none of them in the area, and I thanked her, saying that the end was in sight, it's okay.
Curious that my own airline didn't give a damn about me, someone else did, and came to tell me so.

Kingfisher scored a lot of points that day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bangalore Book Festival 2009

The Bangalore Book Festival begins at the Palace Grounds, Bangalore from Nov 6 - 15. And my book will be available from the stall of Pothi.Com !

Stall No. 288
Bangalore Book Festival 2009,
Gayathri Vihar, Palace Grounds

The entrance to the place is from Chowdiah/Bellary Road side.

Click here to read more about Tales from the Garden City, a collection of short stories based in Bangalore.

Do check out my book if you are visiting the Book Fest, and please spread the word to your book-loving friends.

For those who cannot visit the Bangalore Book Fest, but would like to read my book, this is where you could go:

Thanks! And do make sure you send me your feedback.
I'd love to hear from you!

Update: The stall address is added, as suggested by Gopinath Mavinkurve. Thanks!