Unparenting by Reema Ahmad – Book Review

I was excited to receive this book as part of the Penguin books giveaway. And I thought to myself that I have something to read everyday for the next 2 weeks.
I surprised myself and finished reading in 3 days, trying my best to minimise housework so that I can spend more time reading.
The book is unputdownable!

While reading Reema’s journey as a mother with all its challenges, I felt the camaraderie with her even though all our interactions have been online. There is this feeling of comfort as I read her words; the feeling that both of us are sitting in a couch, drinking tea and she is telling me all these experiences from her life and her learnings! That is precisely why I couldn’t keep the book down.

I like the way the chapters are organised, the topics covered, the incidents and examples helping us to understand it from a deeper level. Very delicate topics like sex have been dealt in a way that can help younger parents. For me, it was a journey to the past. I remember writing all those articles for Parenting website by Blogadda. I have done many things intuitively with my daughters – be it talking to them about safe touch, sex and a lot on dirty slang words. I have sat with them as they ranted and let the anger out against teachers, friends and any others. I have shown them how to stand up for themselves as I stood with them. And reading all the suggestions by Reema made me super happy that I have indeed done what the coach suggests! It warms my heart to know that I have been on the right track. And maybe I still am – for there is nothing more important than the happiness of our children.

I love the sections with conversations with Imaad – very brave attempt by Reema to share those with us. I hope Imaad is OK with it! And I love the gentle nudges, easy solutions and the stark reality which she states as a matter of fact! Parenting is no joke in today’s world and finally we have some sort of suggestions and guide to help the young mothers through the journey!

One of the concepts suggested by Patanjali in his Yogasutra is that we need to look at problems by standing out of it and looking at it with a different perspective. He terms it as Pratipaksha bhavanam. Bhavanam is the attitude towards any problem. Pratipaksha is looking at it from a different point of view. And throughout the book, Reema has done just that. To every problem she faced, she had applied Pratipaksha bhavanam. Be it her divorce or the everyday struggles of single parenting, I appreciate the way she has handled every situation with kindness and compassion.

The writing doesn’t hide her gentleness. Even when she is pushed to the corner during her divorce, she holds on to that gentleness within. I feel like hugging her in those moments.

Her poems hold my heart captive.

One thing is for sure – I am going to recommend this book to the many young mothers out there, who are looking for some support on which way to go when they have to deal with their children, especially in areas which are forbidden to be discussed openly.

Reema…am so happy and proud to know you!

Reema is a NLP life coach and works in the area of healing from trauma, abuse, violence and relationship issues. Feel free to reach out to Reema at candidly.in


The impact of “The Book of Fate”

It was my younger one’s birthday and we took her to the bookstore. “Choose any book you like”, I told her. She was delighted – of course, what better gift than books ! After 10 mins, she came up with The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee and Shikhandi by Devdutt Patnaik. I was surprised yet happy at the same time. She had chosen two different genres and I loved the contradiction.

While she took some time to start reading the first book, she just couldn’t keep it down, once she started. Every now and then, she’ll come and just pour out her emotions to me, saying that things are not fair with women in Iran. She couldn’t handle the lives of women which were being dictated by men, the society and also by large, the religion. Where is the individual woman’s happiness??, she asks. And when she finished the book, all she could fume about was how selfish children turn to be in their later years. Instead of gifting their mother with happiness, all they could do was stomp it away with their talks on societal customs on how a widow should hold on to her husband’s image and heroism. The more she talked about, the more intrigued I was.  Even though I had to push myself to squeeze in the time required to read this book, I am glad I read it.

Massoumeh is an ordinary girl, passionate about learning.  On her way to school she meets a local man and falls in love – but when her family discover his letters they accuse her of bringing them into dishonour, beat her and hastily arrange a marriage to a man she’s never met.

The years that follow Massoumeh’s wedding prove transformative for Iran. Her husband Hamid is a political dissident and when the secret service arrest him, it is the start of a terrifying period for Massoumeh. Her fate, so long dictated by family loyalty and tradition, is now tied to the changing fortunes of her country.

There is this conventional typecast for mothers, actually women – they are born to sacrifice everything for the happiness of their children and family, in the name of society and religion, even if its going to make the women’s existence extremely painful. The women are brought up that way, by their own mothers, grand mothers, aunts and who not ! So, over a period of time, these women feel guilty to even think of small personal happiness.  How much a woman should study, when she should get married, how long she should endure an unhappy marriage – nothing is in the hands of these women.  It’s so scary sometimes, when women hesitate to take decisions, on matters of such importance.

And I wanted to hit the typecast with a hammer – this book does that to you.  After reading this book, I felt the true bolt of Iranian war and revolution and how it affected its masses.  They fell from hot coals to deep fire, when the one Government was toppled and the religious one gained momentum.  To have existed in such a place in itself is a great thing. To face the hardships of Massoumeh, is another thing.

Some quotes which I liked from the book:

– Even in the arts, they considered only artists who shared their perspective to be true artists; everyone else was an idiot. If I said I liked some singer or thought someone was a good poet, your father would argue that the singer or poet supported the Shah or was anti-communist, therefore his work was rubbish. He would actually make me feel guilty for enjoying a song or a poem !

– No, my son, you don’t need a hero. I could understand your obsession while you were a boy, but now you are a grown man and you neither need to be a hero, nor do you need to follow one. Stand on your own two feet and rely on your own intelligence and knowledge to choose the leaders you want to support and the instant you think they are heading in the wrong direction, take back your vote. You should not follow any person or ideology that asks you to blindly accept everything. You don’t need myths. Let your children see you as a man with a solid character who will protect them, not as someone who still needs to be protected.  —- Such clear advice from mom to son. I just wish that the son would follow suit.

A brilliantly written book which takes you through the emotions of the people of Iran during turbulent revolutionary times.  My hope that she’ll at least have a bit of happiness in her later years of life was shattered by her children who suddenly showed their selfish side and didn’t like their mother to spoil the image they hold with their in-laws !

Somehow I like the movie “Mere baap pehle aap”, where the son is so happy to get his father married ! Such should be the relationship between parents and their children.

Also I read that this book was banned by the Iranian authorities – I wonder why !!

So, just go ahead and grab this book.

Private India – Book Review

private india


I’ve read Ashwin Sanghi before – his Chanakya Chant was quick paced and I loved reading it. His Krishna Key was also damn good and well researched even though it resembled a lot like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code (Read my review of Krishna Key here).

The synopsis of Private India as said in the book is:

In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.

For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.

In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.

And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India.  Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation  -along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens…

I had a lot of expectations when Ashwin collaborated with another author, James Patterson. But this book is a big put down for me. After four murders happening within 48 hours, I still turned the pages without any interest.

The narrative didn’t make me sit on the edges of my chair or bite my nails with anticipation of How and Why the murders are happening.

But the following points surely made me wonder, “Why??? How???”

  • This character Jack Morgan appeared for no reason, save the one-page climax. If he was such a famous investigator, how he didn’t he have any inputs to this case that Santosh was trying to solve?
  • Name any thing in the wrong side of Mumbai (for that matter, any city) and its there in the story – Drugs, sex-rackets, terrorists, gang lord, sex-change. I felt that all these were mixed randomly in a cup so that the readers can have a feel that its a good masala mix.
  • Is getting a dead body out of the Hospital into a private agency’s lab, so easy ?? They make it look so easy and that it happens all the time.
  • I found a weird choice of words to explain situations and it never clicked any feeling of mystery in me. Have any of you seen Pretty Little Liars? Even small sequences makes me sit on the edge to wonder “What’ll happen next??”  That feeling is pretty much missing while reading this book.

Even though the big letters make it easy to read for me, the story as such failed to make a mark.

Too many cooks spoil the broth. Two many authors spoiled the book for me.


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Sita’s Curse – A review

sita's curse

After reading the reviews at many sites and many people’s wish to read this book, I was intrigued to try this one. Especially, it was the title, which made me curious. What could be Sita’s curse ?

This is what the book’s brief says:

Trapped for fifteen years in the stranglehold of a dead marriage and soulless household domesticity, the beautiful, full-bodied and passionate Meera Patel depends on her memories and flights of fancy to soothe the aches that wrack her body; to quieten an unquenchable need. Until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, when she finally breaks free…
Bold, brazen and defiant, Sita’s Curse looks at the hypocrisy of Indian society and tells the compelling story of a middle-class Indian housewife’s urgent need for love, respect, acceptance – and sexual fulfilment.

Ok. I wanted to know how this Meera Patel breaks free from the hypocrisy that surrounds her. I wanted to know about the soulless life she leads, which makes her break out of it. And I also wanted to read about the dead marriage, which can literally kill a person.  But, as I came to know more about her life, the sensuous woman seeking liberation from her unhappy marriage disappears and all that remains in my memory is a woman who is able to understand her desires very well but certainly she has not understood herself properly. She is unclear of what she wants in life. Even when she leaves home one fine day, she doesn’t know what to do or what to expect of life or where is she going !!

But there are many other things other than these. Her relationship with her twin brother, her desire for her dance master, the ‘within the four walls-yet everyone knows‘ kind of relationship with that Godman, the steaming relationship with the dancer and of course, another one with the guy from a adult-site.

And then there are her sufferings – when her husband ignores her for one whole year after marriage – when she is not being taken to the in-laws house after marriage, while her younger co-sister Vrinda is being taken immediately – when her husband is kind-hearted to his brother’s wife while he screams at her – when her MIL thinks and talks as though its Meera’s fault that she is not conceiving – when her husband is unable to satisfy her sexually and because of that he treats her with indifference.

But all these sufferings do not justify those lust-filled pages. Her sorrows do not end by giving into such passionate desire with random men and no meaning.  Even with sexual affairs with different men, there is a meaning to it or there is some motive.  She doesn’t have any meaning or motive, yet high on sexual desires makes her portrayal as a weak woman. Yes, she attends some English speaking course, but did she really benefit out of it is the big question.  Instead of depicting her as the strong woman who comes out of her sufferings and holds a place for herself, she has been portrayed as a sex object and everyone views her like one. Even though love is what she yearns, all she gets doing is the lust part. Its sometimes so disgusting, that I had to skip them totally !

And all the men who show some consideration towards her in some form, either die or get arrested or mysteriously vanish – hmmm…its not a situation to look forward to when she finally liberates herself.

Her flights of fantasy are mostly sexual and nothing great about values.

Mostly, a disappointing book for me, except for the fact that one fine day, after 15 years of marriage, she gets out of the web of suffering. But, to where ??

The author, in her acknowledgements has written about the lady she saw standing at a window in the over-crowded Byculla lane and hence the story was born of what a middle-class wife in a crowded Bombay might be. For all Bombay stands for, Meera Patel should have worked at her values and success as a strong woman, instead of stupidly relying on her passionate ventures.

Finally, one more point, Sita’s curse – the title and the co-relation given makes no sense to me. Sita’s curse is her kidnapping by Ravana and here its Meera’s marriage.  While Sita came out of it with an Agnipareeksha, Meera’s freedom is less comparable.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi – A review

Recent times have seen me fall for the fictions based on mythology and so, I was quite excited to get the book “The Krishna Key” by Ashwin Sanghi, from Blogadda, as part of the Book Review Program.

The Krishna Key – Ashwin Sanghi

The story line revolves around the “The Krishna Key”, which is a set of four seals and that which is believed to lead to the location of Krishna’s prized possession !! The four seals are left with four people, namely the linguist and symbolist Anil Varshney, the Historian Ravi Mohan Saini, Professor Rajaram Kurkude and the genetics expert Devendra Chhedi. And it is the Historian Ravi Mohan Saini who gets to crack all the clues and who is also tailed constantly by the Serial Killer, calling himself the final Avataar of Vishnu – Kalki.

The story takes us to the off-shore excavations searching for the remnants of Dwaraka, the Kalibangan, the temple of Somnath, the snow peak of Mount Kailash and of course, and finally to the symbol of love – Taj Mahal.

I liked…

– the enormous amount of research that has gone into the making of this book.

– the amazing facts about India’s monuments, which I was totally unaware before.

– the fantastic blend of the ancient historical facts into a story line.

– the interesting way with which the story began – a murder.

– the surprise factor of Priya’s character.

– the story of Krishna, which is told in between the chapters.

Somethings which I was not fond of…

– The way too much similarities with Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Even the climax was quite expected owing to this similarity.

– When I am expecting a lot of things to happen, I get to read pages from the history book. It sometimes puts me off.

– The story lacks speed towards the end, which might be a pull-down factor.

Dear Ashwin Sanghi,

Had you been my History teacher in school, I would’ve passed with flying colors and probably be a professional Archaeologist too !!! You weave such brilliance into your story telling of the historical facts, that I sit awe-stuck, page after page !!

And finally, there are mistakes, which I think have been over-looked and I am surprised to find them in a book from Westland.

– In Page 301, the characters are Saini and Radhika, while the names used are Saini and Priya.

– In Page 389, there is this line “Priya and Radhika put their hands up in the air”. This should have been “Saini and Radhika put their hands up in the air” !!!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Tamarind City – Bishwanath Ghosh

Tamarind City – Where Modern India Began

By Bishwanath Ghosh

Published by Tranquebar

Reading Tamarind City with Green Tea
Reading Tamarind City with Green Tea

Throughout this book, the author wears a reporter’s cap and explores Chennai, the city he has made his home, delving into its past, roaming its historic sites and neighbourhoods, and meeting a wide variety of people too.

For a person like me, born and brought up in Chennai, it’s always a proud moment when people from other parts of the country, take interest in this city’s history and even write a book about it.

When I had visited Kolkata a few years back, during Puja time, I had great fun in going around the city, learning the different interesting places, the famous foods and all that make up that city. So, it was quite natural for me to see, if this Bengali had captured the essence of the city, which I call my own.

The author starts the book with the history ofMadras, which came into existence even beforeBombayandCalcuttawere formed. And then he goes on to describe the different veins of people who run through the city giving it its colour and character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history of the city which was the starting point of British’s trading.

That part on Mylapore brought in fresh memories of my childhood, the place where I grew up.

Even though I absolutely enjoyed the banter in which every interview was written, I felt that they were quite long which made me wonder if the book is about Chennai or about that person. Also, the part on Gemini Ganesan and Saroja Devi – the yester year movie artists, were quite lengthy and I certainly don’t think that it’s the tamarind part of the city.

Many people told me that this book is quite similar to the Chennai Chronicler S. Muthaiah’s Madras Miscellany. But the Chronicler’s chronicles kept me hooked to the pages.

That Patricia’s story sounded so familiar that I later realized it was an article by the author in the newspaper.

And thanks to the author I went ahead to visit the Kalikambal temple inNorth Chennaiand the famousSt. ThomasChurchin Santhome.

Staying in the same city for a long time, we just take things for granted. Especially the people of Chennai are quite unassuming about the rich heritage and past they have. It takes a Bengali to come and understand the history and write about it.

I wonder if the author has covered all that makes this Chennai city!!! But then I tell myself, it’s certainly not possible to contain the city in just 315 pages. There’s more to Chennai than that meets the text in a book.

A good read and am happy that a conservative Chennai did intrigue the author, to write about it. And Chennai has more to it to go for a Part 2.


This review is written for the Writersmelon group !!! 🙂

You can also check out the review at http://www.writersmelon.com/2012/07/tamarind-city-where-modern-india-began.html  and post your comments there !!! 🙂

Have a great weekend reading books and enjoying the journey through the weave of words 🙂

The Forest of Stories – Ashok K. Banker

Thanks to Blogadda, I had a wonderful time reading The Forest of Stories by Ashok K. Banker. This is his first book in the MBA (Mahabharata) Series.

To say that I had a wonderful time reading the book would be an understatement, as I was literally transported to the jungles of Naimishavan or to the Janamajaya’s Sarpa Yagna or to the beautiful riverside of Malini where Shakuntala grew up. The descriptions are so vivid and live, that the reader traverses to the beautiful locales in search of the characters.

Ashok K. Banker is a familiar author to me through his amazing and awesome Ramayana series. Never before the story of Rama made me so excited. What made it even more appealing was that he made me understand Rama as a human being, which was very important to understand why he was worshiped later.

Even though I missed the Krishna series, I am glad to have made it to the MBA series.

This Forest of Stories gives us a beautiful introduction to the great Mahabharata epic and lays the foundation for the main drama to take place. The understanding of the situations which led to the great War and the characters which made the War happen is very important and this Book One does all that.

The forest amazes a traveller with the varieties of flora, fauna, living beings and the inter-woven dependency between the various natural elements in it. Similarly, the Forest of Stories leaves the reader spell-bound with the varieties of stories and characters and their inter-dependency, who later gave rise to the awesome epic Mahabharata.

One also needs to note that this great epic is a representation from the minds of the great Sage Vyasa in his attempt to propagate Dharma or the path of righteousness through the web of stories, which happened eons ago and where he played a great part as well.

Stories which I loved, especially narrating to my children – The story of the amrit pot, The story on Eclipse, The story on how the snakes got their tongues forked, The story on the amazing strength of Garuda.

The Shakuntala-Dushyanta story is slightly different from what we have been reading so long. But I re-read it again to enjoy the emotional outburst of Shakuntala when Dushyanta refuses to acknowledge their relationship.

The prelude to the Janamajaya’s Sarpa Yagna is fantastic and not to be missed.

That part on the lineage with so many names is totally confusing for the common mind, but they provide a lot of detail into understanding the people who were part of the Great War.

I’ve read Mahabharata in two different versions before and even watched the famous serial telecast during my younger years.

But, never have I had this experience of being there and watching things unfold before my eyes. Sometimes I literally felt like Sanjaya watching the War through his third eye. Such are the powers of Ashok’s words and I am totally spell-bound by it.

The efforts on research and understanding and translating the Sanskrit shlokas as told by Sage Vyasa needs special mention.

This book assures Ashok K. Banker’s place as a master story-teller, without any doubt.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

The SECRETS that maketh LIFE!!!

Yes, I did receive this book – 7 Secrets of Shiva, as part of the Book Reviews program by Blogadda. And I am glad I received this book, giving me an opportunity to get through the secrets of life, which is an inherent part of this book.

This book deals with Shiva, exploring the meanings of his forms through 7 chapters or secrets, which are Lingeshwara, Bhairava, Shankara, Bholenath, Ganesha, Murugan, Nataraja.

Being born and brought up as part of an orthodox family, we were taught to worship and pray to the various deities and learn the rituals associated with it. But never were we allowed to ask a “Why” or initiate a conversation that might probably deal with details, which the elders shunned to discuss with us.

And a few years back, I happened to hear that the representation of the form of Shiva Linga, is based on a phallus. First, I was shocked and then stunned !!! Read Wiki’s explanation here.

But, now here comes a book, that actually explains what this form represents in fantastic clarity and how it is beyond the simple pleasures of life.

It is interesting to note here that, even though we visualize Shiva sitting on a snow-capped mountain, with snake around the neck, wearing an animal hide, with Ganges flowing out of his hair turban, this is not a form found in any Shiva temple for worshipping. Shiva is worshiped only as a Linga, predominantly.  The importance of this form of worship becomes evident, as I read the first secret – Lingeshwara.

The second secret of Shiva, the Bhairava deals with the aspect of how Shiva removes the fear of death in the humans. He is the Kaal Bhairava, meaning the one who removes the bhaya (fear) of Kaal (time), thereby offering immortality.

How Shiva stills the mind of humans, is the core of this secret.  Even though the examples are aplenty to make us understand this concept, it just cannot be attained in one reading. While the research efforts by the author are commendable, its sometimes difficult for the human mind, to go beyond the conventional thinking and to break the mortal fear and reach for the soul.

The importance of the number 3 in Shiva’s mythology, is quite an interesting observation.

Shankara, the third secret deals with how Nature, the Shakti hopes to transform Shiva, the insensitive angry god, into Shankara, the god who shows empathy and is patient towards the humanity.

Shakti, the nature, tries to achieve this transformation of Shiva to Shankara through being Sati, the daughter of Daksha. But wins over Shiva in the form of Parvati, daughter of Himavan.

Loved the description on how Shiva reiterates to the world that Shiva is incomplete without Shakti and that Shakti is a part of him, by becoming the Ardhanareshwara.

The secret of Bholenath refers to the innocence of Shiva, during different occasions. Parvati tries her level best to make Shiva understand the rules, that form the basis of human culture-based society, but Shiva’s innocence is beyond all these. There are many stories which makes us see the innocence of Shiva. That’s why Bholenath is represented in the form of  a child.

I particularly liked the questioning of the cultural norms by Bholenath.

The fifth and sixth secrets of Shiva are his sons, Ganesha and Muruga. Its explained beautifully how Ganesha represents freedom from fear of scarcity, while Muruga represents freedom from fear of predators. Both the sons, guide us towards the perpetual stillness, which is Shiva.

Through the seventh and final secret of Shiva, the Nataraja, the God guides the humanity towards the destruction of fear and offers the wisdom to outgrow fear, which is liberation or moksha.

We were taught many stories about the avatars of Vishnu; especially the Ramayana occupied a major part of our childhood story times. But we’ve never been told so many stories about Shiva, except for a few like the Ganesha and Muruga related ones. And this book opened my eyes about many facets of Shiva and it was enlightening.

Some people might not be comfortable reading about the explanations of phallus shape of the Lingeshwar or how Shakthi awakes the still mind of Shiva to the realities of the humanity.   There are people, who are unwilling to see different perspectives to their deities other than what has been taught in the childhood.  But I feel that the author’s details makes perfect sense.

Those beautiful and rare pictures, that is a part of every page, are a treat to the eyes.

Yesterday was Karthigai Deepam for us….which is essentially the day when we celebrate Shiva as the pillar of fire, where he burns without fuel and without any beginning or end. And what an apt ending to my reading of Shiva’s secrets. I felt that I’ve read for a purpose, which might become clear over the days to come.


This book has been reviewed as part of Blogadda’s Book Review Program.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!