101 Folktales From India
This one book is a definite must for all parents who want their kids to read Indian stories rather than just Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys or God forbid Twilight series!!!!!
Its called, ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India‘ written by Eunice De Souza. The book, as is self explanatory, is a collection of folktales from all across India-from Kashmir, to Nagaland, to Assam, to Konkan, to Kerala etc. Some tales are new, never before chronicled, or rarely narrated in such collections. While some are very popular, well known stories.The book is divided into 6 parts, each having a separate theme. There are stories about magical beings, about kings and queens, heroes, Gods, clever men and women, saints and sadhus, of famous personlaities like Akbar Birbal, Tansen, Tenali Raman, of beasts and birds and several more!
The language is simple, clear cut, easy for the youngest children to grasp and coupled with superb black and white illustrations done by Sujata Singh, these tales are sure to entice kids. The stories can also be enjoyed by adults who have little time to read and want short, simple, witty stories. Its a great book to read if one is travelling short distances. One can easily read five to six stories in about 15 minutes since most stories are one or two pages only. Its a good way to revisit one’s childhood when such stories were popular to read or get in touch with Indian folktales.
Despite its collection and marvellous illustrations, many parents would prefer buying some other folktales books like the Amar Chitra Katha or Aesop fables books. The former is in general very popular and its colourful illustrations along with the comic book style format will surely catch the eye of any young kid more than Eunice De Souza’s ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India.’ That’s one and the only disadvantage of the book. There are just so many better, more vibrant, colourful books about India’s rich folktales and mythology that both parents and kids might prefer that. They may view De Souza’s book as just another big, fat, long, textbook type book that completely discourages them from buying it. Of course, a parent can definitely influence a kid’s choice!
Apart from that, ‘One Hundred and One Folktales From India‘ is a brilliant collection of stories, fables and folktales that allows any reader, with its simple language, to get a glimpse of India’s rich stories!
Night by Elie Wiesel
A Night To Remember
‘Night‘ by Elie Wiesel is not a book for the faint hearted or for those looking for a casual read. The book maybe thin but don’t judge it by the size. Its profound impact on the reader goes beyond its volume.
The book deals with the Holocaust-one of the brutal genocides in 20th century. Wiesel was just a teenager living in a nondescript town of Sighet in Transylvania when the Nazi troops came and bullied all the Jews into ghettos and eventually the concentration camp. Wiesel was separated from his mother and sisters and had only his father along with him.
‘Night‘ is a heart wrenching autobiographical account of Wiesel’s own horrifying experience in several concentration camps-from Buna to Auschwitz and eventually to Buchenwlad. It talks of unimaginable horrors that Wiesel himself suffered and saw all around him, being meted out to countless Jews in the camps. It records Wiesel’s own struggles, his gradual disillusionment in God, his numbness towards all the suffering around him, his love and support for his father and the eventual disappearance of that support, of innocence and the appearance of a self centered thinking that was sowed by the brutality he witnessed in the camps.
The reader sees the transformation that Wiesel went through and how life in the concentration camps made animals out of humans, how it sapped the hope of the most optimistic person and sapped the most devout person of his faith.
Page after page will make the reader cringe, force him/her to feel the pain, ponder on how anyone could survive such colossal pain, ponder on how such a mass genocide was allowed to take place. Hopefully the book will etch the story in the reader’s mind forever so that they never forget-Wiesel’s aim in writing this book in the first place. Hopefully, readers will remember the Holocaust, because as Wiesel puts it,”to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”(pg. XV,’Night‘ by Elie Wiesel,Hill and Wang Publication, First Edition,2006).
Moreover, what I hope the readers will take away from this book, is that we, as readers, should intervene if and when such genocides happen because Holocaust is by no means the last such genocide. They keep happening and continue even in the 21st century-the so called progressive age. It is imperative that we learn from history, from one man’s ordeal that such horrors must never be allowed to happen because that strip humans of the humanity that we are all entitled to.
The Girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson
Certain people in law and secret police circles are involved in morbid sex slavery and the like. Lisbeth Salander gets into this mire and soon half a dozen people want her dead and six feet under.
In the second installment of Stieg Larsson’s “Millenium trilogy”, asocial hacker Lisbeth Salander is on the run as she is a marked person. She is hunted by several parties all of which have a unique tie with each other — sex slavery. The girl who played with fire delves a little deeper into Lisbeth Salander’s morbid childhood in a broken home as her father regularly abused her mother. The last straw was when Lisbeth’s mother was knocked senseless and with a hemorrhaging brain when Lisbeth made sure that “the evil happened” to her father; picture a Molotov cocktail being tossed in after you into the car.
There are several characters and a few meandering story lines so I will break this down for you to the best of my codeine addled brain:
1) Bjorck and Bjurmann attorneys, together with Zalachenko in the seventies were part of the Swedish secret police, Sapo.
2) Zalachenko and Salander and a Molotov cocktail made from a milk carton in the early nineties, met. This resulted in Salander was thrown into an abusive asylum
3) Now Bjurmann was Salander’s guardian in the new millenium. The circle was complete.
4) Bjorck, Bjurmann and Zalachenko were all involved in sex slavery at some level or the other.
Lisbeth Salander was the woman who hated men who hate women and, by her very existence, threatened to rip the net of sex slavery wide open and hence is marked and obviously she had to be silenced. Bjurmann eventually took Zalachenko’s help to wipe Salander off the earth. Along the way our protagonist Blomkvist’s friend and fellow journalist Svensson and his wife Johansson were shot.
But why? Who is Zalachenko? How is he related to Salander?
My cryptic review aptly ends as abruptly as the book itself. I will get my hands on the final denouement and be back with a review soon, that much I promise! Until then, happy holidays!
Author: Stieg Larsson
ISBN 978-0307269980 (English)
The girl with the dragon tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
ISBN 978-1-84724-254-2 (English)
Publication date: 2005
Translated by: Reg Keeland
Harriet Vanger has been missing and presumed dead for 40 years. But then why does her great uncle, Henrik Vanger, still receive one framed flower every year on his birthday, from her?
Sweden may be the land of the midnight sun, blondes and the furniture manufacturers, Ikea, but Stieg Larsson’s book is anything but the pink picture painted by my opening line. “Män som hatar kvinnor” or “Men who hate women” (known as “The girl with the dragon tattoo”) is an intricate book that exposes the murky and horrific underbelly of the fictitious Vanger corporation where almost every character above 70 is a misogynist who resorts to incarcerating, raping and mutilating women as a release for their sadistic sexual tension.
The story follows disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist who has recently lost a libel case against one Wennerström corporation and takes on the Henrik Vanger’s offer of investigating the death or disappearance of his grand-niece, Harriet Vanger over 40 years ago.
Along the way his path crosses that of Lisbeth Salander, an asocial punk-type who also happens to be a brilliant hacker. As the unlikely duo team up to uncover the truth about Harriet Vanger’s death or disappearance, they also uncover the secretive, misogynistic and sadistic vile life of a member of the Vanger family.
It is very difficult to summarize the book without giving away all the intricate yet shocking details that would be revealed as one reads the book. The book itself isn’t a spectacular work of literature as obviously it has been translated from Swedish to English and literal translation always fails at several steps. Also, the beginning and the end of the books pale in comparison to the fast paced middle but are quite paramount (obviously!).
It is worth a read and I look forward to reading the second in the series “Flickan som lekte med elden” or “The girl who played with fire”.
Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie
Author: Agatha Christie
Lead Character: Hercule M. Poirot
Genre: Fiction, Crime Thriller, Murder Mystery
Who do you think is the best detective character after Sherlock Holmes? Do you even know other characters? Well, in case you don’t know let me introduce to you Hercule M. Poirot, A Belgian by Birth but settled in UK and he does best what he does – solving Mysteries. Kudos to Agatha Christie for having brought Poirot to light.
Talking about the book, Dead Man’s Folly is a story based in the 1950’s in UK. Ariadne Oliver is an author who specializes in Mystery books. Her Services are called upon by Mr. and Mrs. Sir George Stubs, a noveau rich war hero who now owns the Famous Nasse House.
Nasse house is organizing a garden fete and Ms. Oliver is called upon to arrange a new game, a Murder mystery, more like a treasure hunt where the participants work their way through the clues until they reach boat house where a local girl is enacting a dead body. Ms Ariadne Oliver is glad and up and about her work. But something is not right. She feels someone is making her do things as a part of the mystery game that will help him/her/them to meet their end objectives. At this point she seeks the help of her old friend M. Poirot to help her and to prevent the murder if it actually takes place.
But the girl in boat house is murdered, so are the other people. Hercule Poirot, though not able to prevent the murder doesn’t give up until he solves the mystery and finds the culprit.
I would not say that this is one of the best adventures of Poirot and definitely not one of the best books by Agatha Christie. There is not much of depth to the characters and the clues provided are a bit obscure. The description of the mansions and building at a point gets drab but nevertheless, once Poirot begins putting the pieces into the puzzle that it gets interesting.
If you are interested in detective works and if you are big Christie fan and if you want to relive the Sherlock-Holmes-Like stories, then go for it. It is definitely worth one read.
The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
As the name suggests, it is a story of a Mistress of Spices! Sounded interesting hence I chose this one to read. It is written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni who also wrote “Arranged Marriage”, a book which I honestly did not know until I read this title.
Mistress of Spices is a story of a girl who is born to poor parents and regarded as a one who will again put her parents in misery as they will have to pay dowry. Little did they know at the time of her birth that she is born with supernatural powers of foreseeing future. As her fame spread, pirates hear about her and abducts her one day! However, she was powerful enough to overthrow the chief and became the queen of pirates. She was not satisfied and when in search of peace, she comes to an island where she is to become the Mistress of Spices under the rigorous training of First Mother.
The First Mother teaches her along with other girls all about the Spices. These spices are later to be used to cure other peoples’ misery when given to them with the magical chants. Once she manages to learn all those Special Powers, she is to run a Spice Store in Oakland. She is given the name ‘Tilo’. Tilo should never leave the store, she should never use the powers for herself but for others to help and last but not the least she should not make any physical contact with any human being. As the story progresses, readers find smaller stories intertwined where Tilo uses her powers to help others. While helping others, she is so taken into it that one after another she starts breaking the forbidden rules laid for Mistresses. Not only she breaks rules but she also allows herself to fall in love with a lonely American. Once she does that, there is no looking back even though the Spices punish her, First Mother warns her of the outcomes……she overrules all, the adamant, obstinate TILO.
Does she succeed in finding her true love, what happens exactly when she breaks all rules, how do spices punish her, who is the lonely American, how does she help the miserable through her special powers? All this and more in the novel where each chapter is named after a Spice ….I wished and imagined also if actually one can use the spices available in the kitchen the way it is used in the Book . The book is a good read for all those who believe in Magic and also for those who don’t for you can always enjoy the other aspects. How does Tilo re-emerges as “Maya” in the end is for you to read. It is an interesting story of magical powers of a woman who uses her powers to help others and self and finally re-emerges as Maya. A story of a woman who dares to taste the forbidden! Whether she succeeds or not in her search & unknown desires is for the readers to find out.
Ginger Chai verdict – Read it in leisure and you may be compelled to complete it at the earliest.
The wind-up bird chronicle by Haruki Murakami
This was the first Murakami book that I read and was completely smitten by it. It easily blends in surreal and everyday events in such an intricate web that you are forced to stay glued till the very end.
The story is about a man named Toru Okada whose cat has disappeared, and then one day his wife leaves him even though they didn’t have any fight or any conflict. He begins to search for the reasons behind this and in the way meets many people who help him in their own ways to understand the situation that he finds himself in. Along the way, their own story unravels adding many layers to this unique story. A story filled with surreal situations, perplexing at times, yet it doesn’t seem odd and doesn’t obstruct the smooth flow of the narration.
The characters in this book are perfectly etched, be it Okada’s wife Kumiko who is fighting her own inner demons, or her evil brother Noboru Wataya, or our very own Toru – simple suburban guy whose simple uncomplicated life takes a twist, Malta Kano – a sort of a psychic healer, May – Toru’s no fuss young neighbour, a rich lady oddly called Nutmeg who helps him a lot in the latter part of the story and the ‘wind – up’ Bird ofcourse.
The book has quite a bit of flashbacks and in one of those Toru and his wife goes to visit an old wise man named Mr. Honda. The philosophy that he endorses forms the crux of this story. He tells the:
“When you are supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top, when you are going down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom.When there is no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up.”
Simple yet complex story telling with many layers of situations – a must read.
Author: Haruki Murakami
Translated by: Jay Rubin
Originally written in: Japanese
ISBN : 0-679-77543-9
Airport by Arthur Hailey
The book recounts 12 nervous hours in the life fictional airport ‘Lincoln International’ at Chicago and how the lives of about a dozen people collide as a result.
Mel Bakersfield (Airport General Manager),
Cindy Bakersfield (Mel’s wife),
D O Guerro (a passenger with a terrifying agenda!),
Tanya Livingston (A passenger relations officer; Mel has an affair with her),
Vernon Demerest (Captain and pilot of the flight ‘The Golden Argosy’ to Italy, and Mel’s brother-in-law),
Gwen Meighen (Senior Stewardess on board The Golden Argosy and Vernon’s mistress),
Eliott Freemantle (Lawyer with questionable ethics trying to bilk a local community that has been forever tormented by the literal din created by the airport, as a result of its proximity)
Joe Patroni (head of maintenance at the airport)
Ada Quosnett (A senior citizen and a Stowaway!)
The book is quite huge and phenomenal in detail and it’s quite a challenge to write a review without writing a book again!
Mel Bakersfield has to deal with the following in twelve long, prickly hours:
Lincoln International has been hammered by the worst snow storm in recorded history with feet of snow banks covering major runways. One such runway is Runway 30 which Joe Patroni, the heavily experienced legendary maintenance chief is trying to clear. Needless to say, air traffic has taken a bad hit!
Ada Quosnett, a senior citizen and a veteran of stowing-away on aircrafts gets herself, surreptitiously onto the ‘Golden Argosy’, a flight to Italy.
Vernon Demerest, who loathes Mel is one of the pilots of the Golden Argosy. He recently found out that his mistress, Gwen Meighen, was a few weeks pregnant with his child. The problem — he is in an emotionless marriage that he wants to break away from but doesn’t want to have a child either!
Tanya Livingston is ‘Trans America Airline’s passenger relations and she has a thing for Mel which is not unrequited! She is also an intelligent, savvy person and can deal with difficult people and difficult situations.
D O Guerrero is a failed building contractor. His family is impecunious. He hatches a plan, a nasty one! He plans on boarding the ‘Golden Argosy’ and blow it to smithereens once it’s in the air. The resulting insurance money (provided that the reason for the explosion goes undetected) would help his penurious family.
As all this is going on, Eliott Freemantle, a scheming lawyer has a demonstration right in the airport.
The book recounts Mel Bakerfield’s reaction to 12 hours of shear suspense which include a philandering wife, feet of snow on an important run way, a mid air explosion gone wrong, picketing by the lawyer, his own brother’s suicidal tendency, a stowaway and not to mention, a pregnancy!
In short: Yes, the bomb does go off.
No, the aircraft doesn’t crash but is close to it!
Yes, Cindy Bakersfield has an affair and Mel and Cindy split by mutual consent.
Yes, Eliott Freemantle, the corrupt lawyer is defeated as a result of Mel’s glib recollection of several proceedings from the court of law.
No, the end isn’t entirely happy. Neither is it tragic. Just complete.
Every time I think of an airport, several details that I was completely oblivious to before I read the book seem obvious to me! This is a delightful foray into the internal workings and those of customs officers, lawyers, maintenance men, police officers, not to mention politically motivated ‘people’ and crisis management teams that goes on in an airport and best known to us, ‘weary travelers’!
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Why Men Can Only Do One Thing At A Time and Women Never Stop Talking
Well I was surfing the bookstore when I saw this small little book with an interesting title. I just thought about taking a peek and I found it so interesting and completed the book there itself. Bad Manners. I know, but it just happened. This little book is full of humorous incidents that perhaps happen to all of us. Like why men can’t seem to find things or they say so, why women can see the hair in their hubby’s coat from 20 feet and hit the garage wall while parking the car, etc. etc. The book becomes interesting with some witty cartoons but still I found that Barbara dominated the book or perhaps it is just a man’s viewpoint.
The book is based on the plain and simple philosophy that Men and Women are two different varieties of the same species. This book will help you understand relationships better not because it is some kind of psychological treatise or something like that but will help you laugh off the things you hated about your partners.
I recommend the book for people who are in some kind of romantic relationships. Singles might take a look, but it is their choice.
The following will give you a fair idea of the book: (Image Courtesy: Google Bhaiyya)
Men literally have ‘tunnel vision’. That’s why they’re always so obvious when they look at other women. They have to turn their heads.
In a room of fifty couples it takes the average woman less than ten minutes to have analyzed the relationship between each couple in the room. She can see who’s who, what’s what and how they’re all feeling.
A Man would have to witness tears, a temper tantrum or be slapped around the face before he’d have a clue anything was going on.
It’s not that men are insensitive to the small details. Their brains just aren’t organized to pick up the non-verbal signals that allow women to notice small details and changes in the appearance of others.
Most men, if they’re going to lie to a woman, would be far better off doing it over the phone, in a letter or with all the lights off, and a blanket over their head.
Book: Why Men Can Do Only One Thing At A Time: And Women Never Stop Talking
Author: Allan Pease, Barbara Pease
ISBN: 8186775749 ISBN-13: 9788186775745, 978-8186775745
Publisher: Manjul Publishing House Pvt Ltd
- Reviewd by Pramathesh Borkotoky. To read other book articles of Pramathesh, Click HERE.
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Dragon Seed by Pearl S Buck
Pearl S Buck wrote this book after she had won the Nobel Prize for literature. This book has all the Pearl Buck Magic. I read The Good Earth 5 years ago and the descriptions in the book still remain with me. I thought, this is the best book I would ever read. But then, I was wrong.
Dragon Seed is moving. It is not an easy book to read. “A novel of China Today” says the line under the title on the cover of the book. “Today” is way back in 1942 – during World War II.
Pearl Buck makes you live thru the times of war from the eyes of a Chinese Farmer and his family. It is about war – people in times of war, women in times of war, atrocities in times of war, food and lack of it in times of war, and hope in times of war. Some of the scenes in this book will be with me all my life.
Ling Tan is a farmer. He and his family – wife(Ling Sao), three sons (Lao San, Lao Er, Lao Ta), two daughters-in-law (Orchid, Jade), one daughter (Pansiao) and two grand- children live in a small village near Nanking, China. His Elder daughter is married off to an educated merchant, Wu Lien in Nanking. She lives there with Wu Lien, their two children and Wu Lien’s old mother.
One day, they learn that war is to come. The scene when they see planes bombing for the first time is funny. The bomb drops on a farmer’s field making a large hole. This farmer is happy since he anyway wanted to dig a pond in his field for a long time. He had been putting it off. Others farmers get jealous as they also want ponds in their respective fields. Then, they see smoke rising out of the city when it is bombed. Slowly, the concept of bombing and other modern ammunition dawns on them.
Thru war-pages in the book, which by the way, is most of the book, there are heart moving scenes – of people being killed, of young and old women being raped, of beautiful young boys being raped, etc. Many die and there is a lack of – space, coffins and effort to bury the dead. Many dead are simply thrown into the river. In summer, they see the ill effects of this when the water is contaminated and diseases spread causing more deaths.
Like thousands of other families, Ling Tan’s family also goes thru all this. Old Mother and Orchid are raped and they die. Lao Ta is “used as a woman”, but he survives it. Lao San’s children die of diseases. War changes the very personalities of the characters in the book. It makes them thick skinned – indifferent to killing a fellow human.
Among so many depressing things, Pearl Buck keeps alive an element of hope. Despite this, it is difficult to not cry when reading the book.
The book ends thus:
“Is there not promise of rain?” Ling Tan asked suddenly out of darkness. There had been need of rain for many days.
“Only a promise,” Lao Er said.
Ling Tan’s thoughts are intriguing and most enjoyable to read. When Ling Tan learns that the earth is round, he imagines a foreigner on the other side of the earth tilling the land. The following excerpt is in this context:
“But the foreigner on the other side of the land grew to be a joke in the Ling Tan’s household, and if the soil grew dry he would pretend to grumble that the foreigner on the other side had drained it, or if his turnips came up smaller than they should, he said the foreigner was pulling the roots”
Another interesting thought of Ling Tan:
“To him the stars were a handful of lights, lanterns, jewels perhaps, toys and decorations, things for beauty rather than use, like a woman’s earrings.”
Food descriptions thru out the book make you hungry. The way they are cooked, the way they look, they smell, they taste, and how nutritious they are… slurrp!! There are paragraphs and paragraphs about food scattered all over the book.
“Out of the eggs she had brought and with some bits of meat and onion she found in a bowl on the table she made a dish so fragrant with goodness that Wu Lien, waking a little to brush off a fly, smelled it and opened his eyes.”
“Here was this good food under his nostrils, eggs such as a city man does not know from birth to death, and he plunged in his two chopsticks and did not take the bowl from his face until it was empty.”
Here is one of the thought provoking paragraphs. This is when Pansiao thinks how the girl her brother would marry should be:
“Did she love her brother or hate him when she thought thus of him? Some of both, she thought for he was both lovable and hateful. Perhaps any woman, even the one sought, would love and hate him, and she must be the one in whom these two did not quarrel, so that when hate came love was not killed by it, and when love waxed, hate stayed for self- defense.”
There are phrases and descriptions in the book that show that women were trivialized in those times. Phrases like – “in the end, she is only a woman“. Jade’s character captured changes in women in those times. Jade is an independent and forward thinking woman that wants to do more than rear children. Her husband seeks her advice in tough times and she demonstrates a lot of talent and intelligence.
This is best book I would ever read.
This book review is written and submitted by DS