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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

My earliest knowledge of the epic ~ Mahabharata comes what I saw on TV as a child. Come Sunday morning and every body in the house would be glued to their television sets watching the epic tale. I was too young to understand it all, the complexity of the plots and characters, the philosophy, the wisdom yet, I was always awe struck by what ever I could grasp and even today, if I think of Mahabharata, glimpses from the TV series comes flashing in my mind.


I am so glad that I could relive that experience in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Palace of Illusions though not in its entirety or fully, but in a new way, in a new perspective that added a multitude of dimensions to the legendary tale. Divakaruni chooses Draupadi also known as Panchali, to narrate the epic saga and that is the charm of the book. It is in fact a feminist interpretation of Mahabharata. Vibha had recommended me this book when I had set out a list of to read books and I am glad to have picked this up. Thanks a lot Vibha!

The novel traces Panchaali’s life, beginning with her magical birth in fire as the daughter of king Drupad before following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright. As she endures a fierce civil war, domestic power struggles, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, her love for her brother and the perils of attraction to elusive men, who also the most hated enemy of her husbands, Panchaali brings a feminine sensibility to her male-dominated world.


The novel is named after the palace which was built by the asura Maya for the Pandavas and Panchaali Panchaali loved her palace and was proud of it.  It disintegrated when Duryodhana tried to claim it after the Pandavas had lost it in a game of dice to him. 


Though most of the story narrated comes from the legend tale, Divakaruni adds her imaginations and explores the mind of Panchaali. She gives insights to how she felt when she was born and was prophesied to be one to change the course of history, to bring about the greatest and the bloodiest war of all times. She tells us through this book, how she felt when she was humiliated in the Kaurava court and how the incident filled her heart with revenge and the vow she made at that time lead to the battle that wiped of the whole Kaurava clan and all those who supported them. Panchaali also reflects on her own actions, good or bad and even justifies them. I could sympathize with the character the author had painted of Panchaali and even could relate to her at some points. Divakaruni has very skillfully retold the story from the viewpoint of Panchaali adding her own twists and turns which made it even more enjoyable, refreshing and enlightening read. 


I would recommend it to anyone interested or not interested in Indian mythology. I am sure it will change the way you think about the epic ~Mahabharata.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#11 Teaser Tuesday ~ The Palace of Illusions & Dear John

I have 2 teasers to share today. One is from The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and other one from Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I have almost finished the first one and have started off with the later.

Here are the teasers:

From "The Palace of Illusions".

"Some people," she continued," thought he was going to die, but I had no such fears. Anyone who wanted revenge as badly as your royal father did wouldn't let go of body and breath so easily."

Page: 3

From "Dear John"

"I need that purse! Its got all my money in there!"

Page: 25

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quotable Quotes from an old diary and Hobbies!

Did you persue different hobbies as a child? Have your hobbies changed over the years?

Mine has.

Some of interest have remained the same, some have developed further and some are quite forgotten. Reading is one of my many hobbies that has developed over the years and others have changed a lot with time. Apart from reading books, drawing and sketching is another thing I still do sometimes even today. One of my first serious hobbies was gardening, but it was gone by the time I reached 10th standard. I was neck deep into my studies and did not even realise when I had stopped tendering my little terrace garden. I still desire to do a bit of gardening but now I don't  have the space in my apartment.

Then, I took interest in stamp collection. I was inspired from younger brother and maternal uncle. But, soon there were competition and quarrels! What can you expect when kids in the same house are after the same thing. Well, I gave up and my brother inherited what ever little I had.

Listening to music was also an interest and is still there. But, I never call it a hobby.These days I have taken to cooking and baking, it was something I had never dreamt I would be interested in.  Another of my unsusal hobby was to collect quotations. That, I think was more prominent when I was in college. I loved collected quotes on different subjects - inspirational ones topped the list. When ever I found one either in a book or a magazine, I would just jot it down in my diary. But, this interest was also short lived.

Well! You must be thinking why am I talking about all this now. Actually, I happened to open my old diary today and found so many nice quotes, that I thought of sharing it here. Some are profound and some are plain 'gyaan ki baatien'.

Here are a few ~

" I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives in. I like to see a man so live that his place is proud of him".

-Abraham Lincoln

"To err is human, but to repeat the same mistake is foolishness."

- Unknown

" I am not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for Perfection is God's business"

- Micheal J Fox.

" Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labours is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatality in being able to fail in so many different ways."

-Samuel McChord Crothers.

This one I have always found my intriguing, but I think I have never been able to actually understand what it means!

" The knowledge that you can have is inexhaustible... The knowledge that you cannot have is of the riddles of birth and death, of our future destiny and the purpose of God. Here there is no knowledge, but illusions that restricts freedom and limit hope. Accept the mystery behind knowledge; it is not darkness but shadow."

- N FRYE

Do share your thoughts and your hobbies and if they have chaged over the years. It will be fun to know how things change with time.

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

I am sure those who have read 'The Curious Case of the dog at the night time' by Mark Haddon must have added 'A Spot of Bother' by the author in their TBR list. I too had and that's why I picked it up from the library as soon as I spotted it.

The story starts with George Hall, a rather quiet man who has retired from his work and is looking forward to a comfortable, quiet life. But, things does not go as per his wishes and expectations. George is hypochondriac and hence when he notices a leison on his hip while trying out a suit in a shop, he is certain that it is a symptom of the onset of cancer. He ignores the doctor's diagnosis of eczema and get sets to put things right himself by doing a self surgery, by cutting the flesh with a pair of scissors! Well, things are bound not to go his way and he nearly acts like a mad man.
But, that is not the only thing going wrong in George's life. His wife, Jean is courting his ex- colleague and is contemplating on leaving George. Also, his divorced daughter is going to tie the knot with his boy friend, Ray, who is not very much liked by her family. On top of all this, his son Jamie who is a gay is deciding on going public about his sexual orientation, much to the embarrassment of the the family. All this adds to the trauma of the old man and he has panic attacks every now and then.

There are so many plots in the novel but it all culminates to a rather long and monotonous story. Why? Because, the characters are so poorly sketched, they seem very unreasonable, unnatural, absurd at times and even selfish. Through out the novel, George seemed to be having a pathetic time, yet I could not bring myself to empathise with him, coz the whole act seemed very fake and artificial. The writing style lacked poise and warmth. There are 140+ chapters in this 592 paged book, some of them as short as one page. I could not understand why the book was formatted in that why, it didn't make it an easy read for me. There were some points when, things seemed amusing and funny, but soon you would get something equally nonsensical and absurd that things will be squared off. I particularly did not like the way the novel ended.  I was expecting something more sensible, more reasonable after going through the 592 pages (skipping a few pages in between), but was dissappointed with a rather rushed upon end. The characters did not seem to have learnt a lesson from the turn of events in their life and still, as fate might have it, things worked out smoothly for everybody finally. I could not figure out the reason behind that. After giving the story such a slow and rather detailed build up, Haddon could have ended the story more pragmatically

After having enjoyed Haddon's The Curious Case of the dog at the Night Time', I was looking forward to a similar experience in 'A Spot of Bother'. But it turned out to be a big let down for me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mango Mania ~ Mango Lassi/ Mango Smoothie!

Lassi is a yogurt based drink from Punjab, India. It can be either sweet or salted or flavoured with fruit. It is usually served chilled as a refreshment during summer days. Mango being in season, this Mango Lassi is currently at the top of my drink list. It is best to use ripe, sweet Alphonso mangoes when available or you can use canned mango pulp as well. I prefer to use fresh mangoes.



Mango is a nutritionally very rich fruit. Read this to know the benefits of this exotic tropical fruit. Coming back to the recipe, here is what you will need to blend a yummy Mango Lassi.

Ingredients:

Flesh of 1 ripe mango chopped.
150 ml low fat yogurt.
150 ml water
2 cardamom pod seeds freshly powdered.
Sugar to taste.
Ice cubes (Optional)


Process:

Add all the ingredients in a blender and churn till smooth. Sieve it to remove any fibre and adjust the sugar as per your taste and the sweetness of mango. Serve chilled. It like it reasonably thick, add more water if you like thinner.
Linking it to Fun N Sun , Seasonal Indulgence Series- Summer Coolers , Only Mocktails and Coolers . The 'Only series' is a brain child of Pari Also linking it to Healing food Sukham Coolers, this event is the brain child of Siri

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

When I saw this book in the library, I instantly picked it up. I had a vague memory of knowing it being into a movie and probably, I had seen one of its trailer. But, I wasn't really sure what to expect from it.

I read a couple of reviews on Goodreads and found that many people classified it as a science fiction. After reading it, I really won't agree to that. The book indeed has a scientific backdrop, but overall it is a story about 3 friends Kathy, Ruth and Tom who were boarders at Hailsham. It is the story of their friendship, how it bloomed and survived the test of time and the haunting realities of life.

Hailsham is a fictional elite boarding school in England where children are brought in a supportive environment with a special emphasis being given on creativity and health. The students are treated special and told that they are going to be very vital to the world after they are done with their schooling and leave Hailsham. The seemingly idyllic boarding school seems like an ordinary school at first, but soon the readers get an idea of what exactly it is. One of the few things I noticed was that none of them talked about their home or their parents and infact said not to have an idea how the world was beyond the boundaries of the school.

The story starts with Kathy, now 31 years old, working as a carer reminiscing her school days at Hailsham. She reflects on her life and charts a slow progression of her growth, her friendship with Ruth and Tom. She tells how the knowledge of what lies ahead in life for them and what role they have to play in the outside world affects their life and personality. The readers get to know the story through the voice of Kathy through out the novel. The deep introspection in Kathy's narration leads to a monotonity in the story. I am not really very enthusiastic how the novel reveal itself to the readers. Despite, the fact that book has won apprecation and accolade and have been loved by many, I found it rather slow, inconsistent  and unengaging after a point of time. Having said that, I did love some parts of it, like when the narrator tells about her school and friends, I was transported to my own school days. Once Kathy, Ruth and Tom completed their schooling at Hailsham and left for the outside world, there wasn't much apppeal for me in the rest of the story.

This book was a bit too heavy for my taste and the ending left me a bit too uneasy. I didn't really get well with the whole scientific idea behind it and in the end found it a bit disturbing.

Kazuao Ishiguro is Japanese born British author. Never Let Me Go was nominated for 2005 Man Booker Prize.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fruit Salad ~ Fruit Chaat ~ Colourful and Healthy!

 If you followed the few recipes I have posted here and I am sure you must have noticed they are mostly on the higher side, if you count calories and also higher if you count the indulgence and taste.

Well, that does not realy mean I love only high calorie food. Let me tell you a little secret of mine.. Well! not really a secret.. I am a fruit-o-holic!! I absolutely love fruits and can have lots of it. So, today I am sharing the recipe of a fruit salad. I won't really call it a recipe ~ it is simply a few fruits, spices and lemon juice. Toss it and ready to serve. Yeah really that easy and looks pretty colourful. Did I say super healthy? Let it bring little bit of sunshine to your day!


Ingredients:

Any fruits you like, I have used grapes, apple, banana, oranges, preferably cold. You can also add kiwis, pineapple, pomegranate pearls
Use 1/2 cup of each.
1/2 tsp chaat masala
a generous pinch of freshly ground pepper.
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice.

Serves 2

Process:

In a bowl add all the fruits and other ingredients. Toss well and serve immediately!

Note:

If you don't have chat masala, add black salt/sea salt and pepper to taste.


Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#10 Teaser Tuesday ~ A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

My teaser comes from 'A Spot of Bother' by Mark Haddon.

"It was always going to be a strange occassion, whoever their guest was. George didn't like other people in his kennel."

Page: 137

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!

Room by Emma Donoghue

'It's Jack's birthday, and he's excited about turning five. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 feet by 11 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real- only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside...'

Told from the perspective of a five year old boy, Room by Emma Donoghue is a remarkably endearing tale of survival, mother-child love and life. Jack's mother was kidnapped by a man  named 'Old Nick' and he kept her in a dungeon like soundproof room. Old Nick had created it in his garden shed. It is in this room, Jack was born and has grown up. He has never seen the world outside. To Jack, the 'Room' is like is his home, his world where he lives and plays with his Ma, but for his Ma, it is a prison in which she has been forced to spend seven long years of her life. Soon, after Jack's 5th birthday, she admits to him that there is a whole world beyond the walls of the room and comes up with a plan of rescue in which Jack has to play a huge role.

Emma Donoghue has crafted such a heart wrenching tale that is truly riveting and spell binding. The characters of Jack and his Ma are so well crafted and real that it will pain your heart to find the kind of misery and pain they have undergone. Jack is intelligent, loves playing and reading, hates green beans and loves his mother dearly. That is why he finally agrees to help her mother in her plan of rescue despite being unsure if he could really do it. Jack's Ma is loving and caring, an epitome of love and compassion, but deep down tired of her life in the room. It is only because of Jack, she has survived the seven long years in the room and has kept the hope of living in the outside world again alive.

I do not want to go into the details of the plot as I think it won't be possible to write about it without giving out spoilers. I was at first intimidated about reading this book as I had heard what the story was about and could not really imagine how could there be a story about a mother and a child living confined in a room.

I am proved so wrong!

It is a profound and beautifully crafted story that will take you on a journey of emotions - pain, misery, agony, love, exhilaration, joy and contentment. It will definately leave a indelible impression on the readers and will have a place in their memory for a long time. I found the story quite unsettling at some points. For a moment, I imagined myself in such a room and believe me, I had a feeling of suffocation. But, I loved the way it ended, there could not have been a better, profound and meaningful ending.

On doing some research on internet I found that the author was inspired to write the novel after hearing about five-year-old Felix in the Fritzl case. Emma Donoghue is an Irish born writer and currently lives in Canada. Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010. To know more about the author visit http://www.emmadonoghue.com/

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Breakfast in a glass ~ Strawberry Banana Shake & Dates Mocha Shake

Shakes and smoothies are my ideal express breakfast. A few ingredients into the blender and whiz! Voila! Ready to drink :-)! There are times when you are in no mood to cook early morning and sometimes you are fed up of regular corn flakes or bread jam. For me 'Shakes' is the answer. Here are two of my favourite, of course for the second one you have to plan the night before. I do often ;-)

Strawberry Banana Shake:

Ingredients:

4 strawberries washed and hulled.
1/4th of an extra ripe banana peeled and chopped.
250ml low fat milk.
Sugar/Honey/Maple Syrup to taste.

Process:
Add all the ingredients into a blender and churn till smooth. Pour into glass and serve immediately.
Dates Mocha Shake:

Ingredients:
4 dates soaked overnight in less than 1/4 cup water.
1 tsp chocolate powder.
1/2 tsp instant coffe powder.
Sugar to taste.
250ml low fat milk

Process:

Add the dates along with the water in which it was soaked into the blender. Add all other ingredients. Churn till smooth. Pour into glass and serve immediately.


Linking it to Srivalli's Breakfast Mela
Sending the Strawberry Banana Shake to ToRview's Event Food Palette-Pink.

Cheers! Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Another Sketch and some pictures!!

This space has been silent for a few days now as I didn't really have an book review or a recipe to post. I haven't picked up a new book(as I haven't finished the last ones) so I am skipping the Teaser Tuesday this week.

I have been seeing such beautiful paintings and art work on Bhargavi's Blog and was tempted to post one of my little sketching. If you have seen them yet just check it now.

Well, this little sketch isn't really a good work. But, I just wanted to post something ;-)!


Well, if this black and white sketch isn't looking that impressing then, here are some colourful ones for you!Last weekend was a long bank holiday weekend and the weather was nice and pleasant. So, we had been to the National Botanical Gardens here. I got to take a lot of pictures and here are a few pictures.

This one is my favourite! I have not seen Tulips of this variety before!

I love this one too! Isn't it colourful!

And last one!
 I will be posting a few more beautiful pictures tommorow for Wordless Wednesday. Till then take care! Thanks for stopping by! Cheers
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