Friday, December 4, 2015

Vaaniraj Cafe - Panathur, Bangalore

If you want to taste good authentic pure vegetarian Tamil food (idli, dosa, vada, sambar etc., & meals), you might want to try this place - Vaaniraj Cafe in Panathur. Excellent food at reasonable cost. Try it once!

Google maps location:

Menu (as of today)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar - A Review

The first thing that will attract you to the book is the front page is Kunal's face showing an unintended innocence - a face that is going to make you get stuck to the book like the Fevicol advertisement that you see in the TV channels. I really don't know under what category should we classify this book? Is it a comedy, a living biography, an emotional narration? Frankly, it is a mixture of everything - like a diary you maintain daily and pick the days that form the highlights, stitch them together and present it as a book.

Not many of us will have events that we can relish from the past. Even if we have, it mostly will be one of the naughty things that we did during the childhood days as narrated by our father or mother. I feel really jealous that Kunal has such a wonderful set of events in his life that he lists throughout the book very rapturously! Even for those of us who don't remember many things, the first kiss would be an unforgettable event :-). Even if you had forgotten (let us assume we had) Kunal will certainly bring back those memories when you read his kiss with Ishani! Okay! :-) (Kissing has some many special places in this book, if that is enough to inspire you to read this book).

If you are interested in dating, Kunal has (a set of well researched) 12 points to help you there as well! The chapter I love the most is "Dinner with Dad" - A neat, to-the-point presentation on the most useful life lessons that one can hear from his father! Especially, "Disarm with a Smile" & Standup when it counts" are peculiar lessons for every one of us on how to handle two similar situations, but not losing our cool & not being disrespected!

I am sure lot of us bobble, and I am sure you will agree by means of bobbling when you read Kunal explaining about bobbling! :-) There are many emotional moments too - like the moment with father before he boards the flight to the US (and he makes it quickly funny by explaining how he was meddling with the TV in the first class coach :-)), and the departing moment with Dziko. Kunal also presents "Always Joy" - the little boy that lives inside him by means of a poem (?!) . Yeah, every one of has this little boy inside us, that we will realize when we read this! Festivals are special and Kunal adds fun in his own way while narrating them too!

The language used in this book is a cool, down-to-earth, easy narration that you will feel that K sits in front of you and narrates you his life (I promise, this is not another office meeting scheduled just immediately post lunch where everyone feels sleepy and watching others to check if he is the only one feeling sleepy)

What do I love the most in this book (and you will too): A Thought Recorded on an Aeroplane Cocktail Napkin - a page that you see once in 20 or so pages, that reflects on life and will inspire you a lot!

I just clarified the doubt that I myself had raised in the beginning of this review - Under which category should I classify this book? I realized that, even if you want to read essays in this book (or pages) randomly, there is no page that is left without having some kind of fun in it, there is no page that will not make you laugh at least to a little extent when you read it, and there is no page where you will not be able to separate Kunal and fun! So, let us classify this book under "Fun, laugh, or whatever makes you happy and feel elated!"

I am pretty sure as you read through the book, you will enjoy as much as I did, recalling the petty instances that happened in your own lives!

Buy from Flipkart

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad

There is a current trend to blend ancient Indian history and religious events with fiction. Few to mention are Scion of Ikshvaku, The Seal of Surya, Ajaya, The Curse of Brahma, The Mahabharata Secret etc. This book, "The Curse of Surya" clearly stands out of all those for the very reason that it takes a peculiar (and hence unexpected) piece from Krishna's life related to Shyamantaka and presents it to its readers in a form blended with a thriller. Shyamantaka is usually a known jewel to all the people of India, especially, the Hindus. But, the details they know are very limited (the term they includes me too)  - it ends at the fight between Krishna and Jāmbhavān, Krishna taking Shyamantaka and Jāmbhavān gifting Krishna his daughter Jāmbhavati.

Interwoven with connecting the events of a reporter, an investigator, and a smuggler to the precious gem, this book is exemplary in this category of books. The depiction of various historical happenings you see in this book speaks volumes on the amount of research that Dev Prasad has done. The way the author connects the northern part of the nation to the west is amazing (Mathura to Dwarka). I had to really search in Google Maps to understand the demography explained in this book on Dwarka, Okha, Bet Dwarka, Pancha Teerth etc., I also had to use Google to understand Vajranābha and his relation to Krishna and Dwarka to understand the connection better. The language used in this book is a fine example of how best one can narrate the set of historical events in the current scenario when combining with fiction. Everyone will like the humor sprinkled throughout the book. Frankly, it is not really easy to introduce subtle humor in a serious book like this. Two things I would like to call out. "I will have a black coffee with lots of milk and sugar" and when SP Shenoy gets disturbed by a late night call from SP Nisha, he says "I guess I am destined to take orders from women."

There are few questions that will naturally arise in any reader's mind that could have been explained or connected better: who really changed the Krishna idol in the box to AK47, how the old man Blanchard reached the old dusty library and Nisha trusting him first, how can anyone go on without having any food for so long (I understand it is quite normal in fiction, but the tedious explorations that David & Sangeeta undertakes (like scuba diving) need quite some energy!), what is Kathoria's real role etc. Further, from my limited knowledge, Sanskrit is one beautiful and peculiar language that maintains the meaning unchanged, even if the words are shuffled. So, I don't really understand the need for rearranging the words in the final set of clues at the Shankhodara Teerth Temple (based on numbers). Also, a normal reader might experience a slowdown when he reads that the second search based on the first set of clues results in another knot to be untied.

The next set of events will ensure the book continues to keep you interested and surprised. Being a techie, I especially like the final part where the author connects the set of events with tsunami (the highlight here is that there is a lot of technical explanations for tsunami). Overall, a well-conceived, superbly narrated fiction that lives up to and beyond what it promises on the back side of the book "Fast-paced and gripping, The Curse of Surya will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat while you unravel one of the biggest mysteries in 5000 years."

Sure, these 300 pages are going to keep you seated on the edge, entertained until you finish it, as they did to me.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are strictly personal and not influenced by any other person.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A P J - Always People's Jade

Not many times, do we get a President who is above politics.
And, not many times do we get a President who is a scientist.
And, not many times do we get a President whose sole dream is to make the 
country developed and had a vision and contribution towards that!

Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam

In a country where the Presidents are treated as only 'rubber stamps' to say "Aye' to
whatever the ruling party says - as a return favor to electing him or her to office, 
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam stands as a fine gem. He proved that the praises and positions 
are earned through hard work, and not gifted as it generally happens in the political 
arena in our country.

In a country where Bharat Ratna is mostly decided politically, very few deserve it truly 
for their contributions - To name a few  - M.S.Subbulakshmi, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. 
We should be very proud that we have Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam among them - a true gem!

We should all be ashamed to be selfish enough dreaming about amassing wealth 
& luxury while he dreamed about the nations prosperity! The politicians in the 
name of serving the country using our tax and acquiring wealth for their seven 
generations must be ashamed even more!

Finally, not many times does the whole country miss its true citizen & mourn for 
the loss of its President!

I don't know if we will ever get a President like him!

Salute to you, Sir, for all the contributions to this nation, and inspiring many of us!
Proud to have lived during your Pokhran, Agni and other missions, and during 
your tenure as the President of the Republic of India!

APJ - You will be remembered as Always People's Jade!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mistress of Honour by Bhaavna Arora - A Review

Seldom do we realize that the air we breathe freely comes at the cost of the soldiers that stay vigil at nights and at mountainous terrains where breathing freely itself is a privilege. For most of us living in the cities, who are used to complain for anything and everything, it is not surprising to be completely unaware of the struggles that the soldiers & officers face on the borders away from their families. For those of us specially, Bhaavna Arora delivers all these and more, coalesced with special dose of romance through 'Mistress of Honour'. Whether it is the love between Potnis and Pansy, or between Advik and Rihanna, the author takes us through the phases that every adolescent mind will go through when it sees a person that his or her heart will want.

The bravery of the soldier Potnis during the 1984 riots and how the same terrific operation seeded a sapling of love through Pansy, and the romance that happened later, solemnizing into a marriage - all this is beautifully narrated by the author. Shamsher is the best part of this novel - the wit that he expresses during his stay and the help he does to Potnis talks a lot about the epitome of friendship. Advik's and Kabir's relation adds to the friendship tales. The hardship of a women (mother, beloved, wife or daughter) associated with a soldier or a military officer is well explained through various subtle scenarios.

The chapters that deal with NDA will surely inspire many people who want to pursue a career in the Indian Defence Forces. Not only, it delves deep into how the NDA prepares the students to treat country first, but it also teaches a very important lesson - if you want to enjoy the roses in the garden, you have to be prepared to meet with thorns - the same thing that Swami Vivekananda said - Purity, Patience & Perseverance brings you honours! "Yes, Sir!" - those powerful two words mean a lot for these cadets!

For those who are in their 20s or early 30s, there is no way we would know the reality behind the 1984 riots, the LTTE operations that India supported during late 80s. Even the Kargil war that happened in 1999 would have made into our knowledge (to me at least) only as a significant news but not as what it happened in reality. The amount of research that Bhaavna has done to give us all these details, blend it with stories of Potnis, Pansy, Shamsher, Advik, Kabir and Rihanna is quintessential. The author has even embedded NSCN in her book, and the readers will be able to appreciate the insurgency that India & Indian Army face from NSCN and ULFA every day, thanks to the recent attacks on Indian Army by NSCN and the revenge attacks by Indian Army by entering the territory inside Myanmar. 'Right or Wrong is based on which side you are in' - What better line could explain the terrorists and the army that are fighting each other for their own cause.

Rahim's chapter slows your reading pace a bit (and could have been avoided as it side tracks IMHO), but Advik's training at NDA & Rihanna make sure you will continue through the book to enjoy it fully! And, how would the parents allow Advik and Rihanna to go out just immediately after their engagement, and the way passions flow instantly to consummate their relationship even before the wedding is a bit difficult to accept. The ending (which I am not going to divulge) is what some or many of us would have expected differently, but I feel it is BOLD & BEAUTIFUL!

I wouldn't say "If you are a patriot, read this book!". Instead, I would like to say, "If you want to understand how tough it is, not only for the soldiers, but for their wives and beloveds - the sacrifices the latter make, and humbly accepts the fact that they cannot be the first love at any point of time to these soldiers and officers, but they can only remain Mistresses, but of course with lot of honour, you must read this piece by Bhaavna Arora which is beautifully woven with romance, drama and perfection!"

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

India on My Platter - Book Review

If you want to travel all over India, at the same time taste the different food that this country can offer, by sitting in one place, here, Saransh Goila presents you a special 2-in-1 "India On My Platter".  The way Saransh explains the beauty of the country covering almost all the important places is just splendid! Very few get a chance to travel the whole country like this young lad did, but I must say he used the opportunity pretty well - to explore the culture as well the cuisine! I had the opportunity to spend around twelve months of my life in the north in Rajasthan and during that period visit the state of Himachal and adjacent cities. He just brought in front of me the beautiful food that I also had the opportunity to taste. I could relive moments in Kullu, Manali and the Rohtang Pass.

Many of us travel all over the country, or even the world; but, only very few excel in the art of narrating our travel experiences. Saransh, take five stars for your narration alone! The way he could even spend time with road-side drivers and present a "Highway Style Dal" by those drivers in his book tells a lot about his passion for cooking and easy-to-mingle type. He got multiple opportunity to spend time with the whole families in many places including the royal lunch in Kangra, Leh, Srinagar, Amritsar and so on (I love his Amritsar experience!). For many of us, days are spent running and we don't have the basic luxury of having food with our own family; but this guy wherever he goes get a family and friends for himself! Lucky Guy indeed! Not only the traditional places, but also he has explored many religious places like Dharamshala, Mathura, ISKCON!

This book also comes with a bonus for its readers - about fifty different recipes that are traditional as well as his own experiments! Before I lost my bachelorhood, I used to cook myself. Now, though not very frequent, I do cook infrequently. Sure, I am going to try some of the recipes in this book. A small suggestion to Saransh and his publishers: Next time a new edition (or set of prints) is planned, please include a 'Table of Contents' section for the recipes presented. It is easy for those to go to a specific recipe instead of searching the whole book. One more thing I miss is that a state that is rich traditionally as well as in cuisines is not covered. Yes, I am talking about my own native state Tamil Nadu. I don't know how he travelled from Munnar to Puducherry without touching Tamil Nadu. And, in case he touched it, I don't know why he didn’t try Tamil Nadu food. Or, perhaps, he thought that there are so many good food types in Tamil Nadu and so didn’t want to try any specific food (still, people love the authentic saambhaar,  of Tamil Nadu, nowhere else you will get such saambhaar)!

This book certainly has added lot of places in my travel list also. Not sure if I can visit all of those, but will certainly keep in mind on what Saransh highlights if I happen to visit these places.

All in all, a perfect blend of culture and cuisine, garnished with a beautiful narration! Sure, everyone will enjoy! Buy from Flipkart to relish it!