Let me start this review with a confession – I am not sure how I feel about this book. I love parts of it, yet parts of it leave me disturbed and angry. I started the book on a happy note and finished reading it with a sense of emptiness in my heart.
Essentially a love story, The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat is a book for people who like falling in love and revel in nostalgia. The book is in 10 parts with 9 different narrators. Yet all these narrators are bound together by one thing : The Girl they fall in love with, and whose story they tell us. The unnamed Girl whom we begin to love, whom we want to hug and protect. All the stories by the 9 people are like puzzle pieces to The Girl’s life – scattered among time. You get to know a bit about her childhood through narrator 1 (The Saint), while another reminiscences about The Girl’s solo trip to a beautiful country. Every narration adds color to her, fills in blanks left by another and brings us as close as possible to a truer picture of The Girl.
She is not perfection, though. Like so many other dream girls flashing on our screens and peeping from within her books, she is a typical, tortured artistic soul looking for love and stability. Quite frustrating.
I love the explanation of love in this book. Or rather, the exploration. Too many lives have been destroyed looking for a soulmate, believing in Bollywood kind of love. This is more apt. More flesh and blood. More true to our feelings.
But it also gets ugly. Because that’s how life and love are.
It is not love, though, what most of them feel for her. It is often lust, confused with love. Sometimes, she was an antidote to their loneliness. To one, she was youth personified. To another, she was a beautiful promise of a better, brighter future. And like all stories, the beginnings are beautiful, poetic even. Until the love morphs into something perfunctory and brings a messy end. Until the headiness of new love subsides and we see the narrators for who they really are. One lover takes a nude picture of The Girl without consent, without her knowledge. And most of these men become friendly with her with pure lascivious intentions, breaking her heart in the process.
Yet there were a few who did love her, who gave her hope and the security she needed. The teacher helped her when she was most vulnerable, giving her a life-long skill – a gift. Her husband – of the quick and probably brief marriage, scarified a lot for her, just to see her smile, just to see her happy.
What I disliked the most, however, was the attitude of The Girl towards all this. She is shown as an intelligent and independent girl who takes solo trip to another country and defies her parents in her wish to follow her dreams. And yet, she never shows the door to those who mistreated her, to whose who didn’t love her enough. She doesn’t get angry, just sad, and even when she walks out – she comes back. Love is her biggest strength, but its also her greatest weakness.
Verdict: Strangely disappointing. Still, worth a read.
Devdutt Pattanaik, called “India’s favorite mythologist” brings out yet another take on Mahabharata (the first one was Jaya) – but this one is exclusively for kids.
The Boys Who Fought – The Mahabharata for Children is the compressed version of the classic Indian epic, Mahabharata. Beautifully illustrated by the author, it is a budget friendly version that has just 107 pages. Perfect for children and for their parents (because seriously, children’s book have become so expensive!).
The original epic is choked full of characters (more than thousand) and covers incidents ranging from adultery to polyandry, murders to fratricide. The author has touched on all this, yet has kept it very matter-of-fact and has quietly moved on, keeping in mind the age of the readers. The numbers of characters has also been kept to a bare minimum to avoid confusion (and probably frustration).
Written succinctly, The Boys Who Fought is a tale of two group of brothers who fought with each other in the name of dharma.
When you can fight for the meek without hating the mighty, you follow dharma.
In the forest, the mighty eat the meek. In human society, the mighty should take care of the meek. This is dharma.
The Pandavas, five orphan brothers ask their rich cousins, The Kauravas for their right on the kingdom of Hastinapur. The Kauravs, one hundred brothers, refuse and burn their house, try to kill them on multiple occasions, insult their wife and steal their kingdom through devious means. This leads to the great battle between Pandavas and Kauravas that lasts for 18 days and causes immeasurable bloodshed, loss and pain on both sides.
Children get to know not only dharma and adharma, but also realize that sometimes even good people end up doing wrong things. They learn to question the acts of not just villains but also the heroes.
It’s a great way to get children to know about our classics – in a language and style they are comfortable with. And hopefully, this could create an interest in our culture and classics in them.
*Disclaimer: I got this book as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program. All opinions expressed are my own.
The Golden House, the thirteenth novel by Sir Salman Rushdie, is yet another fable of dark, twisting realities, profuse with tales of love and loss sprinkled with a bit of the zeitgeist of present day America. It is a plethora of film noir, of Greek mythology, of crime capers and of mad Roman rulers. Rushdie delivers wonderfully as is expected from him by now – poetical prose, peppered with quirkiness and just a bit of black humor.
The plot follows closely the lives of the Goldens through the eyes of their resident spy / neighbor / filmmaker René. Set against the backdrop of the Obama era years, from his first inauguration up to the election that brought Trump to power, we see their lives transmogrify, from glory to defeat, from identity crisis to death, from omnipotence to feebleness and from naivety to realizing the immorality within.
The novel begins with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and the arrival of the Goldens in Gardens, a secluded Eden in Manhattan. Nero Golden, his three sons, Petronius, or Petya, Lucius Apuleius, or Apu and Dionysius, or D. These were the names they picked for themselves when fleeing a personal tragedy from a country that could not be named (but could be guessed, easily). The names itself are haughty and powerful and speak of richness and authority . The Goldens in their golden house – honest to the point of vulgarity. Everything is grand and glittery. (Almost) Everyone is larger than life. The parties are the classiest, the people are the crème de la crème; even the ladies of the night are classy in their own way. It echoes slightly of The Great Gatsby, though there’s no Daisy and no Nick Carraway. (We do have René, but he’s no Nick).
The sons aren’t content with just changing their names, however. Petya struggles with overcoming agoraphobia and invents immensely successful computer games; Apu finds his artistic side and turns out to be really good at what he does; and D goes on a journey of gender identity and self-realization. To add a sense of fatality, in walks a scheming Russian beauty, making the cast complete. And we have René, our young, innocent, sheltered dreamer who despite the best of his intentions gets irrevocably tangled up in his subject matter. The method of his entanglement was the one thing that I found sorely disappointing. It was as cliche as it gets, something so mundane and common that to find it within the pages of The Golden House was absurd.
There’s a mystery about the departure of the Goldens which even though was supposed to be a huge plot reveal, didn’t feel like so because of the constant foreshadowing. But it isn’t the plot here that is the hero, though it does have its sublime moments. Just as well because magicians like Rushdie aren’t known for their plots, but for their way with words. Its the words that delight us, “intelligently amuse” us, and even when the world within the Gardens erupts, and plunges us into despair – its the words that are our savior. The suicide letter of one tormented character, the resignation letter of another have the capability of moving us much more than hundreds of other novels.
“I need to think and the city is full of noise.”
I cannot think of a more perfect quote that reduces our lives to nothing but a quest for inner peace. Its amazing how Rushdie lets his words flow so smoothly from the lyrical to the practical, throughout these 380 pages.
Some of the best passages in the book, however, are not about the Goldens or René . They are about the city that can not be named, with its imposing hotel that cannot be named, within which thrive the beautiful unknown people that somehow seem more real than other characters in the novel. They are about the Joker (real name Gary “Green” Gwynplaine, based on Donald Trump) in the White House, the one whose very presence in the power seat of America shows us the truth of this country. They are about a country being torn apart by its own treachery.
“America’s secret identity wasn’t a superhero. Turns out it was a super villain.”
Never have truer words been written before.
Think of this not as a novel but as a journey with a nihilistic destination.
*Disclaimer: I got this book as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program. All opinions expressed are my own.
Disclaimer: I got this book as part of Flipkart Blogger Review Program.
It’s been long since I’ve read a thriller so this one was much anticipated. Skyfire by Aroon Raman isn’t your typical thriller. (or maybe it is- depends on the kind you’ve been reading).
The beginning of Skyfire seemed too Dan Brown-ish and then some. And then it seemed like a cliche out of all the “change society” movies. But then, the book picked up its pace. And the plot got better, if a bit too twisty -though sometimes the author took way too much in building up a scene. Though the plot does neatly moves from acid rain to missing orphans to Dharma Initiative.
I do wish, however, that guessing the identity of the main antagonist wasn’t so easy. I liked how the author didn’t whitewash the reality of how life really is for a lot of street kids in India (and probably all over the world). The three main characters were really well written, and that to me is just as important as a good plot. And a plot that consists of reformed street kids, strange kidnappings, a mysterious robot, acid rains and elite government initiatives is a pretty damn good plot in my book!
I wish I could write further, but I don’t want to spoil the plot anymore for everyone. Lets just say that if you love reading thrillers and rooting for the good guys, no matter what the odds, you’ll love it.
Fiction/Thriller | Rs. 299 | 240 pages | Available on Flipkart IN
Once upon a time, buying craft supplies online in India was an impossibility. There were no websites, other than ebay (that too only its U.S. branch) where one could buy the essentials for one’s crafty needs. I hated that – especially after looking online at how easy it was for people based in U.S./Europe to buy craft stuff from the comfort of their home. Oh, how I envied them! Luckily for us, now there are numerous craft supplies websites and one can find almost anything online.
This post, and the next few posts are going to be my personal reviews of these websites. Please note that these posts are in no way sponsored. Neither are they endorsements of the said websites. Its my review of the websites to see how good they actually are in terms of range of supplies, availability of said materials, and ease of navigation etc.
The first shopping portal that I am going to review is Craft Gully. It looks neat and is easy to navigate. The search bar works well and there are no dead-ends or empty categories. Also, one can easily zoom in at the pictures and get an idea at how the products look – a necessity, really, but not available on every website.
Other than the various products available, Craft Gully also has ebooks, templates and catalogues for download. All for free!
Other than craft supplies, there’s a whole section dedicated to paints – acrylic, glass & fabric. They also keep kits for paper quilling, art kits and stitching kits. Oh, and you can also buy books (though currently there are just four books available – insert sad face – I hope they add more).
Ok, so here’s the real stuff. Sit back comfortably because this is informative AND really long.
Image credit: Craft Gully
Craft Gully has the following product categories (and we will look at them one by one): Quilling Supplies, Accessories, Paper, materials for glass painting, jewellery making, punch craft, clay modelling, crochet & needlework, scrapbooking, embellishments, flower making, and tapes and adhesives.
Glass painting has very few supplies, limited to glass colors by Fevicryl and four glass stencils. A pity really, because this is a craft I would like to see more range in. We really need more than those basic colors. I’m tired of painting all glass surfaces same old red, green, yellow and blue.
Jewellery Making has a huge variety! I was mesmerized by pages and pages of beautiful stuff! They have got beads of different shapes, sizes, materials and colors; bead caps, beading needles, various charms, connectors, tweezers, wire, earring clasps and studs, eye pins, various clasps, jump rings, blank pendants, wire cutters, pliers etc. Phew! I think this basically covered everything one needs to start making their own jewellery, no? Seriously thinking of trying my hand at this.
P.S.: They have categorised some flatbacked pearls and kundan stones in the Scrapbooking category (why?!) and not here. So if that’s what you need, go see in the other category.
Punch craft has a lot of embossing tools, paper tags, envelopes, googly eyes (?) and just ONE paper punch. No, really. Just. One. Paper. Punch. Which is sad because it would be nice to get a good selection of paper punches. Especially since the category *is* Punch Craft. This was a disappointment.
Clay modelling has very few products and three out of those five are currently out of stock. So the only things available are air drying clay and a shaper tool. Again, a sad state of things.
Under the Crochet & Needlework category I found some embroidery threads – all by Anchor, bells, buttons, sewing kits, crochet needles, pom poms (yes!), a tiny sewing machine and stitch kits (again by Anchor). The range of stitch kits is actually good – they have 2 and a half pages dedicated just to this and the cost ranges from Rs. 205 to Rs. 415. But a lot of these are Out of Stock, too. I wish they had some cross stitch stuff too, other than the readymade kits.
Scrapbooking has, obviously, a nice range of craft papers, die-cut shapes, fabric tapes (which I adored), flatback pearls, kundan stones in various colors (they should have also been in jewellery, by the way), magnets, stickers, tiny paper flowers and leaves (which seem slightly expensive but I love the range provided – so many colors & variety!), paper wreaths (wow! how adorable are these!), pearl stick-ons, photo corners and various rhinestones (again expensive – a pack of 5 for Rs. 27?!).
On a side note, even though the site has categorised everything nicely, I wish they had bunched together all the related stuff under sub-categories. Like various kinds of paper & beads separately as that would make browsing under a category so much easier. Then one doesn’t have to go through pages & pages of beads when one simply needs to see various types of craft paper.
Also, a lot of this stuff is also available under the Embellishment category (so I will be repeating myself), which kind of makes sense.
Under Embellishments, we have tiny acrylic/synthetic flowers, ball chain in various colors and length, charms, crochet tapes (OH MY GOD! Want those NOW!), decorative wire, fabric tapes (same as those in Scrapbooking), die-cut shapes, glitter, jewelled embellishments, kundan stones, stickers, tiny paper flowers and leaves (good range), paper wreaths, pearl stick-ons, photo corners and various rhinestones.
In Flower Making, we have artificial flowers, craft scissors, decorative wire, Duplex paper in different colors, foil coated wires in a range of colors, satin leaves (most of them were currently out of stock), tube moulds, paper flowers, paper wreaths and paper leaves, pollen strands in various lovely colors, pre taped wire in a few basic colors, stocking cloth in a variety of colors – even shaded and flower making tape again in a range of colors. Pretty good!
Accessories has a lot of stuff spilled over from other categories. We have 3D outlines, ball chains, buttons, various tools, papers, hot glue gun, key chain rings, magnetic sheets, foam pads & sheets, curly ribbon, cutting mat, cutters, magnetic tape, metal earring hooks, mobile phone danglers, paper flowers, pipe cleaners, pom poms, resin flowers, rhinestones, scissors, glue pen, stick-on tape, and envelopes.
Papers is self-explanatory. It has 65 items, a lot of which are out of stock. Still, a good range.
Tapes & Adhesives has Crochet tapes, fabric tape, stick-on tape, flower making tape, crystal coat glaze, glue drops, fabric glue, foam pads, glue gun stick and hot glue gun.
Quilling has a huge variety of supplies. I have never pursued this craft, so I am really not an authority on how good the range is, but it does seem exhaustive.
All done! Overall, a great site. Payment options are online only, so no C.O.D. I find paying online better though I know a lot of people prefer Cash on Delivery. And best of all, they offer a 30 days replacement guarantee for all products.
I hope this post is helpful to my fellow crafters. Did you find this post useful? Would you like to see more such posts (or should I just stick to DIY posts)? Do let me know in the comments below.