What Kitty Did – Trisha Bora

September 3, 2017

trisha

Sequels of ‘What Kitty Did’ would blur the line between fiction and once-in-an-era artwork just like a Primavera or a Mona Lisa.  When one comes across such beautiful expression of all that makes us human, one gets emotionally liberated, even if it’s only for a while.  This is the inexplicable effect of good wine and good sex too. Let me snap out of the swag though. Ketaki is as vibrant a person as her city of Delhi, she is a perfect concoction of clumsiness and adoration.  Her personality though has a fleeting, perturbed yet unmistakable hint of younger Carrie Bradshaw.  Just like her, she is daring, can’t say no, and she’s given to attracting some really embarrassing situations.  For those who don’t like Carrie, Kitty can easily come across as a cross between Bertie Wooster and Hercule Poirot.

The book achieves a lot of things for the reader.  First, the writing is expressive and beautiful words don’t break the flow of this quality reading.  The reader is made part of the plot somehow, I was breathing down Kitty’s neck all the time.  The plot is entrancing, and I must say very well thought out. There’s a celebrity murder in town, and Kitty lands bang in the middle of an unintentional investigation. She’s not alone. She’s got a wonderful coterie of friends and well-wishers who ensure her safety and try to navigate her out of her chaos. A love interest makes her story ideal.  I do think though that Trisha overdid the parts where some suspects found Kitty endearing enough to seek her camaraderie upfront. Also, in Trisha Bora’s first book, there’s this description of Delhi that does all the travel compendiums to shame.  I felt like I was rediscovering the city that I’ve lived in for years.  Even though I’d been to all the places mentioned therein, I hadn’t realized what an immense character the city has. Not unlike Kitty’s baking.  What should one do when they’ve perfected the art of science? Kitty brings in so much to her bakes that are based on her grandma’s recipes. Again, what truly is a recipe?  Surely it is more than just ingredients and the sequence that they should go in.  Kitty’s Grandma buried nuggets of wisdom in her recipes, Kitty’s reconstruction of baking does justice to the importance of this art only partly: “It’s odd that I took to baking in the first place.  I guess it’s because the order baking demands balances out the complete disorder of my life, in a sweet way.” Kitty underplays the role of baking in her life, I’ll venture to undertake that it is baking that lends the mojo to her personality.

So there, I want to be bold for a change, I want to go against the temperament of my earlier reviews.  Just like this book, so unlike the ones I’ve read before.  Love, sex, violence is all there.  But they are mere seasonings in this illustrious and insanely witty world of Kitty. What I had been eating till now were mere morsels of food from earth, now I’ve almost tasted Manna.  But why do I allude to sequels at the beginning of this review? Because I think Trisha can take us to heaven with her next, then I shall have tasted Manna in its entirety then.

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When Dimple met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

July 18, 2017

Love is complicated.  It is a rainbow with variedly weighed hues of attraction, jealousy, disappointments and such emotions.  Especially so when we are young. How we navigate through this rainbow churns out our real selves.  At times, we get to know ourselves better in the end, we even change in the process and all this is so characteristic of our turning into adults.

When Dimple met Rishi is a roller coaster ride within the confines of two young hearts. When I read through the first few pages, I couldn’t drive away the ever springing thought of Karan Johar’s new movie set in the US.  I still think that the story is perfectly adaptable into a Bollywood flick.  It is the writing though that is the highlight of this work.  Sandhya Menon portrays feelings very lucidly.  She can clearly reason out reactions too, which solidifies our appreciation of the characters in the story – Rishi, Dimple, Celia, Ashish and the Aberzombies.  Menon is very responsible with her characters, who are all but eighteen years old. The story though – pick any other book from our desi stable and you will get a close cousin.  As a reviewer, that saves me from the sin of giving away the plot. Perhaps the author was inspired by love stories in an Indian setting?  I don’t have to try too hard to figure out the typical landscape charted by an Indian love story here: a chance meeting in childhood, the very Titanic scene of ‘let me draw you’, the use of poetic Urdu words such as ‘Kismet’ and ‘Lajawaab’ and the sort.  Perhaps this one will help plant seeds for a nice little garden of love stories for the International Indian diaspora?  The plot epitomizes the tried and tested formula of Indian films – I suppose a Mills & Boons type of book with a desi angle was long overdue and this novel meets that demand with flying colors.

Some of the very minor and blasé innuendos can be easily overlooked. Jenny Lindt has been depicted as a Sheryl Sandberg of a business woman.  I doubt if Sheryl would go about scouting the nation for the best web developer, for example.  To sum, the author has managed to successfully export the typical Indian love story comprising a rich guy bound by family expectations and an ambitious girl who wants to break away from the traditional path.

Current Show – Perumal Murugan

May 11, 2017

Current Show_webIn his first book written more than a decade ago, Perumal Murugan immerses the reader in a world of innocence exposed to abject poverty. Some parts of the story are reminiscent of the upsetting bits depicted in ‘Pather Panchali’ while others are strikingly original, both in plot and language.

Well, first the story without the spoilers:  We know how Eminem romanticized confinement of his life within 8 miles. Well, Sathi and his friends spend their life around a rundown cinema hall. This is where they create their dreams, face their demons and earn a living, however meagre it is. There’s The Hulk, Muthu, Mani, Natesan and some other boys who run errands for the many ‘one-cot’ shops around the cinema hall.  It is Natesan, who at times holds Sathi and nurtures him out of his hurt while at other times, the roles reverse.  Current Show portrays a world comprising of heartless transactions – even between friends. For instance, they never seem to neglect an opportunity to throw expletives (or themselves!) at each other. Yet, in part owing to these transactions, there’s a world of cohesion between Sathi, his friends, their ‘masters’ and the surroundings. Everyone here seems to have a trade born out of desperation – even the cinema owner himself had created this movie hall out of desperation for some acknowledgement from his keep. This desperation has a role also in objectifying their perception of things – even Cinema – they analyze cinema solely on the basis of who’s been cast. The things they can’t objectify: they shun or they shy away from, at times, they block themselves from affection of their own…

So, what is Sathi to do when the fine balance of his ecosystem is destroyed?

We might be tempted to think that there’s only so much that seems to happen around our traditional cinema halls. Well, I for one will never view any Cinema hall without thinking about the myriad of small worlds around the complex languishing in dirt, desperation, lies, torment, and all sorts of bad tidings. Especially when I see some children, I will know that their innocent eagerness to hope for love in any shape or form leaves them exposed to be preyed upon by devils who thrive in the same world – a world surprisingly devoid of any ambition but overflowing with friendship, curses and hunger. One can’t help but wonder, time and again in the novel, the age of these kids, depending on the harshness meted out to them.

After reading the book you would smarten up to a battered aspect of life

Arrogance eats up your grey cells more than Love does

October 14, 2007

There is a Spanish couple sitting in the next cubicle and the man wants the woman to get his point of view. He really does. His desperation reflects in his voice as he moves distinctly from articulating his thoughts to raising his voice. How vain that is, I think.

Love is exciting because:

You found someone who you could reveal your complete self to – like my friend said “this was great because before meeting her, I felt like I was stifling many thoughts inside of me that, if nurtured, may have given me self fulfillment. Also, the thought of holding someone in my arms gave a feeling of belonging.” Also, I am sure it felt so good to finally have the freedom to be one with someone that you found worthy of and who found you deserving of her. And he continued, “Suddenly, my feelings were not just my own! Someone else felt remorse when I felt sad and at times, she felt joyful with me. It felt so nice to pick her up when she least expected to be lifted, to feel her feminine waist and her porcelain skin … and then kiss her lightly while she slept.”

“And then I wanted to believe that I was the only one who she had loved with all her heart. So I wanted to know everything about her so I could love her more than she had ever been loved.  I was up all night waiting for the call that never came. I felt alone again. Then she called and she emailed and it felt good for a while before darkness set in again. I was too passionate. She was methodical. I thought love was irrational. Not methodical. Then I pleaded to her – I was weak, I said, I wanted her love around me as much as I loved her. She said it was okay if I loved her more because she wanted me to. So I was left alone trying to figure out the exact maths that go into loving her more than she did. I started keeping balance sheets and accounts of our transactions.”

Phew!

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiaV67y_bNM]

“And then it died – faded shamelessly after being flared up by my passion of a thousand suns. Not fair.  I keep trying to tell myself to think about it later. I wish this was just prose – not the story of my lost love.”

Time@INSEAD

May 12, 2007

Time flies here.

This short preamble must have suggested that THIS IS GOING TO BE THE QUICKEST BLOG EVER. Reason: My schedule is busier than what I was ever prepared for. But that does not mean that I will leave without posting a YouTube clip. In fact, I will post 2 videos this time. Though I know that even this will of course not come close to compensating for the lack of my beautiful prose.

First, the updates:

Academics: Did NOT do well at all in P1…tried to catch up in P2

Social: Sadly, the bad P1 results did not keep me from making a drunken fool of myself at every INSEAD party

Misc.: Got elected as a member of the Student Council!

Career: Got interviewed by Google, a bank and some consulting firms. I don’t care about others but Google decided not to take our relationship further.

 

Bollywood 101 for westerners:

For you, my readers, I am putting my integrity at stake and giving you another video.

For all fans of Steve Irvin: I am a fan too. It was a treat to see his enthusiasm. In fact, when people sometimes ask me (sometimes=once per year, but isn’t this the most important question of your lives?) “H.G., what is the all important criteria to choose a profession?”, I say “do what you are most passionate about.” May Steve R.I.P.

For all budding consultants, this video might prove useful:

Senses and Actions

March 7, 2007

I had a difficult time deciding between having “Exams are Over” or “Senses and Actions” as the title to this post. While I was slacking about it, I came across this video in youtube and if you want to know why I selected “Senses and Actions”, then see the video:

Anyways, lets start from the beginning. P1 exams got over today. The past 2 weeks were stressful enough for me to start reconsidering my notion of INSEAD being a “party place”. We basically covered enough material taught in 4-5 months in other business schools. P1 has been, in general, 2 months of exceptional learning for me. I learnt about the importance of time and setting priorities. I understood the meaning of Spiderman’s philosophy “With great power comes great responsibility”. Most importantly, I came to know a lot about myself and my alignment with the world I want to be in. Ah! genius is boring you with futile generalities. Alright then me hearties, let me wear my pirate suit…

My P1 from a pirate’s eye (the uncovered one) was housing problems – conveyance problems – study group conflicts – social scene mess-up – more housing problems – academic nightmare. With P1, most of these problems seem to have vanished. Today after the exam, the bar area actually looked like it was hosting the mardi gras in France. Beer and nick knacks all over the place. A couple of hugs – people leaving for their ski trips or to see their girlfriends and boyfriends in London. I just went home and slept a couple of hours then I was back at INSEAD replying to emails and talking to my folks back home. I think I will not go to the party at “Bakardi” tonite just to spend some time with myself. Ah! And now genius is so vain. Well, maybe genius just needs some more sleep! 

Its all about fun and work here

January 21, 2007

…and the twain do meet at INSEAD, its just a matter of employing the concept of “tradeoff” (we learn that a little too early here, much before our first class of “prices and markets”).

Anyways, my consistently ignorant punjabi brethen in California posted this video last year which basically made fun of a certain sect of people:

Though I condemn it, I have been told that it was made in good humor. And one of the casts is actually applying to INSEAD to refine his temperament.

I like French better than Americans + bonus: first few minutes at INSEAD

January 8, 2007

So I guess I’ll have to explain the title in detail. I am about to leave for my first round of introductions with fellow Fonty INSEADers. I am excited. I found this opportunity to fill in my blog because I know I am going to be influenced by this experience of meeting for the first time, people from 70+ countries in a single day. So, before this effects the content of my journal, let me quickly give you my “top 3” for France vs US:

  1. The French are soft spoken. I heard an occasional “wei” but at the airport I did end up appreciating how quiet and respectful the French are
  2. France is undeniably more beautiful
  3. Unfortunately, France still derives its entertainment from American movies and a little bit of music too. Throughout the airport, I saw French versions of trailers of popular Hollywood movies. But the French have still retained a liking for their own music

That’s all the insight I can give you right now, this is only so much I have gathered through my limited stay here. Yesterday, around the same time, I went out for a stroll to see my neighborhood, and hit the Veneux Les Sablons train station. Lo and behold, there it was just 2 stops away – Fontainebleau. My woes actually started when I reached Fonty and was told that INSEAD was not walking distance from the station. So I waited an hour for the bus. When I finally got there, I was surprised to find a lot more Dec 07s had come to visit Fonty before our opening day. More surprised to see that most were Indians. I met 2 Jul 07s who were jovial and fun, maybe because a harder part of their MBA was over. They gave us great insight as to what we can expect to happen in the next few days. Made me wish I had not been lazy and actually done a bit of pre-reading.

Then I met some more – who else, but Indians! After introductions we decided to head out for Lunch. Again, it took us quite some time to figure out an appropriate place to get lunch. There were 2 ladies leading the pack – one Indian and the other American, and I guess that was part of the reason why we went hungry for a while 🙂 . This was also the first time that I realized that maybe I shouldn’t have come because I was freezing to death (remember, I intended to be out of my apartment for a stroll and ended up at INSEAD campus)

Another thing about life…

October 21, 2006

Just preliminary thoughts…

 * no rationality – love Or God

Where is the world’s collective conciousness headed to?

Guide to Socialising

October 10, 2006

update: I met a couple of ppl appreciative of my blog and I like that! but here is my official position for this year: I intend to get it on with books and studies at INSEAD – nothing else. So I wont be blogging much.

First off, I am unwillingly posting this blog. One of my friends said to me “HG, you are on your way to become a great consultant, will you please analyze why desis don’t seem to get it on with ppl?”. In a weird way, he did make sense. Nevertheless, I intend to keep this short and sweet. Actually the heading should have read “for Desis” in the end. But I recon some of my advise would be applicable to many other communities (of FOBs) as well. You as a reader will probably have the following questions (in the following order). Here are my answers:

“Genius, what credibility do you have (concerning the topic) ?”
Having lived in the US for about 5 years, I have mostly used my time to learn the culture. The culture, in brief, is all about socialising. I was a part time DJ in Dallas (I actually just helped setup equipment and changed tracks when the main DJ went out for a smoke) and got to meet some of the most wonderful ppl.

“How are your experiences relevant to what I want?”
My experiences are not relevant to you if you fall into one of these categories:
(a) You are a desi nerd whose idea of outing is going for groceries to the Indian store
(b) You are happy dating your computer
(c) You linger around other desis and talk to your male friends hours in a row. 
I am an ardent follower of Friedman and his “The World is Flat” theory. I think the only other “force” he omitted to mention was the force of friendship between people of different races.

“Ok, I can barely wait, what were you going to say?”
First, please burn your beliefs – walking with your stomach out, chewing with your mouth open, feeling up your male friends, smelling like onions, staring at body parts, talking loudly on the phone, etc – is not sexy in the global context.

Second, join some kind of community classes or activities…that way you will not only learn a lot about the local culture but also meet terrific ppl. If you are really in a hurry, join the alcoholic anonymous groups – these groups always have ppl looking for a shoulder to cry on. Don’t take my word for this one – I’ve heard this from someone.

Also, I guess, what I am saying is that “let ppl speak” and be a good listener. Read this:
http://eteraz.wordpress.com/2006/08/04/

Well, I did not mean this to be a very long post. I just wrote this quickly in a couple of minutes. To give you last words of advice: be true to yourself – contrary to what others think, I don’t believe its important to know in advance what you want out of your relationships with friends and family.