Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: The Buddha of The Brothel by Kris Advaya



Title: The Buddha of the Brothel          Author: Kris Advaya
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishers
Price: 209
Pages: 336

The first impression this book has on you, is through its blurb which bears similarities and states out-rightly and surprisingly, that the book would appeal to "Shantaram" lovers. Though similar broadly, the trajectory of this book is very different. The blurb does no justice to its contents except for its declaration of being a "true story". That combined with the writing style was the reason I decided to review it.

A true story- a depiction of life is a fine concoction of a bland and as tasteful in different pockets, as life itself. This book does complete justice to this balance, that being its greatest merit. It unlike movies or some books that aim to make the reader enjoy, make a true story larger than life, the irony of which I could never appreciate. This is the story of the author, Kris from Slovenia, an emotional being troubled by his own share of life experiences comes to India to learn Ayurvedic massage. On this path to spirituality, he has practiced celibacy for years and yet one glance on Radha, a prostitute in Pune's red-light area, makes him fall in love. Love in these circumstances too is depicted in its reality, beginning with desire, growing further towards dreams of ever-lasting companionship. His mind is however not conflicted by feelings of being in love after ages, but the demons lie in the world his lady-love resides in. He tests his feelings on multiple levels and finds it to be true, however the inner workings of this world aren't as simple or solvable. Kris will have to, on every stage do a lot of questioning within himself, to come up with answers, for life. This is his life most critical and difficult mission. 

His journey through mostly the west and south India takes us sometimes to beautiful landscapes, and the travel writing was refreshingly good, making the reader travel. Though the repetitions of train journeys, each time could be avoided. In some part the book will delve deep, while the authors is in 'self-thinking" mode, and these are the most well written parts, the rest of it fades in comparison. The depths of Indian ashrams, sex market in the country, etc. is written about but these aspects aren't written in depths Shantaram went into with Mumbai underworld. If that is what you are looking for this book isn't for you.

The book is a journey of finding oneself and love. It as all the elements of confusion, self questioning, experimentation, discovery, love, realizations and to some extent action. It is beautiful for it is relatable, for each of us at some stage of life or another (not as bizarre or dangerous as Kris's) have gone through this period of deep self questioning, self doubt and signals from the universe. We have received love from the barren lands, a warm smile from tormented lives and beauty in ugliest settings of the world. A few pages from a fellow beings life is what you will live through this book called - The Buddha of the Brothel.

RC Rating: 4/5.  A life story is always better than fiction. Recommended especially for lovers of the written word. The language is your treat, the metaphors your balm and wound too. 

About the Author: Kris Advaya emerged from the void in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1976. After crawling his way through a stint in the military, and already multilingual, he spent five years studying French, Russian, and literature at the University of Ljubljana. Always artistic, he spent most of these years writing songs and abusing an electric guitar while playing with his alternative rock band. Soon afterwards, life took him to India and its enticing ways, and he’s been trying to cure himself of nomadism ever since.

Grab a Copy: https://www.amazon.in/Buddha-Brothel-Kris-Advaya/dp/9386538091


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

'AAP & Down' by Mayank Gandhi launched at Crossword Bookstores Kemps Corner

Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner came alive with a throwback to one of the largest movements Indian democracy has seen since independence; the mad righteous frenzy whipped up by the Aam Aadmi party in 2011 to end corruption from politics.

Present at the bookstore, were authors Mayank Gandhi, one of the chief architects of AAP and  co-author Shrey Shah, with their book ‘AAP &Down’, published by Simon & Schuster India, presenting  an insiders story of the rise and dismantling of a party that captured the nations imagination, but failed to truly capitalise on it. Veteran journalist Nikhil Wagle was present to moderate a conversation and launch the book.

Largely intense and serious, the book has its  lighter moments too, making it an engaging, fast read.  For eg; Statements such as the only reason India is poor is because we eat paani-puri,’ or the rhetorical question

Q: How many Indians does it take to change a light bulb

Ans: 500. 1 to change the bulb, 49 to stand and watch, 50 to make suggestions and 400 to tell him it cant be done, mark the initial pages of the book. Mayank Gandhi reveals at the very beginning of his book, that he had known Arvind Kejriwal since 2003, due to his work with Anna Hazare for the passing of Maharashtra RTI.

From tales of Anna Hazare leading the charge, to a candid assessment of Arvind Kejriwal, the current CM of Delhi after a landslide victory in Feb 2015, the book chronicles an important period of recent Indian history. Upto his eventual resignation in November 2015, Mayank Gandhi shares his view of the evolution of AAP as a party, throwing in heady doses of disdain for  personality driven politics, high command approach and other things he experienced. This reaches a crescendo with his question

“How did a man, who was once my hero- become the most disliked Indian?”

He ends the book with a description of his current work at Global Parli, with a hope that he will be a part of fulfilling India’s destiny again.

Speaking at the launch, Mayank Gandhi said, "There have been thousands of books written on independence struggle but nobody sat down and documented this history. I felt as an ex insider that it was my duty to put before history and people what was happening”.

"There is a spark inside every youth that this is my country and these are my people. I want to serve the people. There was a dream of a corruption-free India and those days. This passion for serving the country was one of the major reason for me getting involved" said Shrey Shah, co-author.




The book launch saw intense discussions matched by eager listeners of Indian political intrigue. Nikhil Wagle remarked, "I think this is an important book because this is a documentation of the decline of a political party in India. This party once upon a time was an idealistic party. I suppose Mayankbhai has written in this book about how the dream collapsed and crumbled".

As  a final salvo, Mayank Gandhi revealed that he  got a call from Narendra Modi's office and Rahul Gandhi's office after quitting AAP to join politics, but by then he had lost interest in politics.

Welcoming the community engagement seen during the launch, a Crossword Bookstores' spokesperson added, "The future we have envisaged for Crossword as a melting pot for conversations relevant to the community, is here. Todays book launch is proof of that."


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why I Chose Poetry to Express the Status of Women Today?

“Some birds are free,
Some birds are caged.
This origami bird is
molded from a page.
Set her free,

Or let her be.”

A time where hashtags like #womensupportwomen and #girlpower flood social media, a simple #metoo took everyone by storm. We talk about uplifting and empowering women but at the same time not everyone believes it off social media. While that happens around the world, India is still stuck in a place where there is a whole other story playing. Here, women are worshipped in temples, but treated like slaves in bedrooms. A society that is equal parts male and female dominated is still suppressing women at the end of the day.

As someone who spent her youth years in both India and outside, being able to understand different cultures helped shaped Origami Birds. We may think women are treated in a certain way in our society, but we don’t realize what is happening elsewhere. Social media very well hides our real life, which in turn makes people believe we are all too perfect to feel stronger emotions like pain or anger. We are all trained to keep a prim and proper exterior, meanwhile our interior starts to rot. By the time you realize you need to let it out, there is no one who is going to listen to you.

When I personally reached that point where I felt I was going to explode, I used poetry to express myself. Being a private person, it was always hard to share my feelings with people, and I felt like there were more people out there who felt the same way. Over multiple coffee meets and stressful talks, I started listening, and when I did, a million stories started to unfold, which came to be the collection Origami Birds is.



“I feel cold in your warm caress.I feel scared in your security.” 


The above excerpt from Origami Birds shows how majority of poems are written metaphorically between a man and a woman, where the man is the society and the woman is all of us. Through Origami Birds I am not trying to start a pro-feminist movement, just simply sending a message out about how easy it is to let it out. The more we keep inside, the harder it gets. As the book begins, I want the reader to understand that we all as humans are just like an Origami Bird; shaped and molded by the society, but free in the essence.

By reading Origami Birds, I want the readers to be able to feel lighter. If they relate that’s great it means they want to get the heaviness off their chest and if they don’t, at least they’ll be able to help someone else out who feels that way.

When someone meets with an accident and starts to bleed, our instant reaction is to stop the bleeding. Then why now do the same when someone feels that way mentally? Our mental health is so strongly attached to our physical health, yet we don’t treat them the same way. If our minds are clear from any stress or pressure, it will show on our physical selves. Once we start to keep both in good shape, our lives will become a lot easier. It’s all about finding that person who will listen without judgement, and just listen, sometimes opinions and consolation are not needed. That’s why I encourage people to reach out to me if they would like to talk, because feeling better by talking doesn’t cost anyone anything.    

Written by Tanya jain: Tanya Jain recently graduated from Parsons The New School for Design, New York. She has been using design and writing as a means to express herself through her work. Gaining inspiration from her life and the people around her; anger, pain and suffering are the major themes in this collection. Physical wellness is as important as our mental wellness. Without being able to express all the emotions one feels, the body is simply a host where the mind resides without being connected to it. She believes in expressing the strong emotions that society prefers to keep secret. She wants her emotions to scream through words and make the reader feel it too.




Does this make you want to read the book? Grab a copy now!!!


Legends over Generations by Ashraf Haggag




Book Blurb: Since the beginning of human settlement, a lot of people came up with ideas, philosophies, beliefs, experiments, research, redesigning of thoughts, talents, and surveys to bring myths to reality.

People contributed to various life aspects science, politics, literature, arts, social activities and so many other fields. These genius minds put a keen interest in every phenomenon right from when they were young. The zeal, passion, dedication, hard work and efforts they put into their work helped them discover something new about the world we live in.

In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.

They are among the most influential people of today’s world. With practical advantages in various aspects, they have helped us to grow a better understanding of the world and different working phenomenon’s that governs us. Their way of shaping modern day culture is completely unrivaled.

About the Author: Ashraf Haggag is a senior executive with nearly three decades of experience in close proximity to the corporate market. His more recent experience has also taken him to every facet of the hospitality industry.  

Haggag has direct experience in many different aspects of business, including sales, marketing, revenue management, and administration. Having worked in Germany, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, his global experiences have helped him realize that companies must target new market zones in order to grow and prosper in the international marketplace. He is eager to bring enhanced cross-cultural awareness to today’s business leaders.  

To know more about the book or the authors writings, check the links below:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gauri Sinh’s mystery novel The Miss India Murders launched at Crossword Bookstores.


On 9th February 2018, Supermodel Ujjwala Raut & Parizad Kolah launched Gauri Sinh’s mystery novel “The Miss India Murders” at Crossword Bookstores, Mumbai. 


The back page of her whodunit book,  “The Miss India Murders”  published by Harper Collins, screams with the tagline- Twenty perfect contestants. One perfect murder.

Gauri has  been an insider to the world of glamour and entertainment  for a considerable period and that makes her book both credible and arresting. 

Former civil servant and social activist Abha Singh with The Miss India Murders

The story is set in the year 1995 where there are twenty-one beautiful contestants participating in the pageant. It opens with a shocking mysterious death on the ramp,  and the plot subsequently unravels how the case is solved. In a nail-biting twist of circumstances, with a closed circle of suspects where each suspect is found to have a credible motive behind committing the crime.

The book was launched at Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner  by super model Ujjwala Raut and Parizad Kolah Marshall.


This is Gauri’s third book, after Dog-Send: The Story of Simba and The Garud Prophecies- Sitara's Story.

Welcoming senior scribe Gauri Sinh to Crossword Bookstores, Maulik Desai, Head said, “ The genre of mystery novels is a young form of literature that has developed since the early-19th century. We see a demand for  fast reads among the youth and welcome such gripping plots.”

The book courses though troughs and crests, to an edge-of-the-seat finish, while  giving the reader a sense of the enticing elite world of fashion and beauty pageants.

At the launch of her book Gauri Sinh said when people ask me why a crime novel, I would like to ask them why not. All of them read crime novels. I have been reading crime novels. I find the iconic characters in crime novels are usually a male, they are older. Even when you think of women, you do not have an iconic, glam, young, contemporary detective. I wanted to try and fill that void for desi audiences. I wanted to make the characters Indian. There is a trend that runs through all my writing. I like to take ordinary characters and place them in extraordinary settings.”

                                               Ayaz Menon with author Gauri Sinh

Ujjwala Raut, the famous supermodel who is well aware about how the glamour industry works, said I have known Gauri since the last 21 years. She has been interviewing me since the time I was into modelling. I love mysteries and detective books &  I used to read a lot of Sidney Sheldon books which are about murders and mysteries. My dad was a cop himself. He retired as an ACP in Mumbai.”

Parizad Kolah Marshall added, "I have known Gauri ever since she was the editor of Bombay Times. I have been for all her book launches. This is her third one.  I can relate to the glamour world back then and can also relate to the time when we were a one big family and how things have changed in the current times"
                                     Reshma Bombaywala with The Miss India Murders

There are some gems nesting within the pages of well-known journalist Gauri Sinh’s book, such as...

Instant celebrity without necessary toil allows us to believe ourselves invincible.” 
or 

“Mistakes were costly and inconvenient to everybody-on ramp, in life.”




Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Launch: Super Foods for Awesome Memory by Master-Chef Shipra Khanna

Crossword Bookstores plays host to glorious, celebrated cordon bleu 
Shipra Khanna.


The pages of Masterchef Shipra Khanna's latest book open to reliable advice. Have a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil in the morning to keep your skin beautiful. Now that's just the kind of tip one is looking for, easy to do, with great benefits too!

With her new book, 'Super Foods for Awesome Memory'MasterChef Shipra Khanna weaves an eloquent web of advice and recipes that are intensely beneficial to our daily lives. Kunal Vijayakar,  well-known food writer, did the honours at Crossword Bookstores, Kemps Corner.

Take for instance, her avocado sushi, which transforms the Vit C& B rich, powerhouse fruit into a bite-size starter that's great for memory.  Or well-researched tips  such as 'chicken is rich in choline and protects your brain from the effects of ageing', or that 'extra virgin oil contains polyphenols that improve learning and memory.'

The best thing about this book is that Shipra Khanna doesn't ask you to take anything for granted- she backs up every suggestion with solid scientific basis.

Check out this excerpt “Coconut oil contains short and medium chain fatty acids that help in shedding excessive weight.”

In her own candid words,

I’ve lived a life that’s been good, bad and ugly in parts, but cooking was the constant. My kitchen gave me so much peace and tranquillity that it served as my sanctum sanctorum. For me: Good Food equals No Compromise. I never served food that wasn’t perfect by my standards, and I never will. Thankfully these standards are always on the rise! From childhood, my life journeyed through food. I truly don’t know where I would be without it. It’s all I really know how to do!”

Masterchef Shipra Khanna is recognized as one of the top Indian celebrities. She has been working extensively in India and across the globe. Her love affair with cooking began at the age of nine. Her specialty is Global cuisine, Indian, baking, desserts and fusion food. 


Commenting on the launch, Maulik Desai, Head Crossword Bookstores gives perspective, “ Cook books are a part of our non-fiction category and we have seen that the book sales of India’s top chefs are in huge demand. Indians like to try out different varieties. Crossword welcomes Shipra Khanna and honours her work in making Indian food a household name across the world.”

With shows around the world, Shipra  has travelled globally, propagating Indian food. After “Sinfully yours” and "The Spice Route"‘SuperFoods for Awesome Memory' is Shipra Khanna's third book. The book has a very global approach to nutrition, from nuanced Indian recipes to hardcore international spices. 

It's a gastronomic joy ride you must go on.


The release of the book was followed by a masterclass conducted by the author along with a conversation with Kunal Vijayakar.

"I have gone through the book and I must confess one thing that we have a lot of books about how to maintain physical health, how to loose weight but nobody till now has dealt with mental health & memory. The book is beautifully published. The pictures are really nice. The recipes in the book are easily do-able. Congratulations  to Shipra for such an awesome book" said much loved foodie Kunal Vijayakar.

The book is published by Rupa Publications India.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Julia Donaldson at Crossword Bookstores this week


Crossword Bookstores  & Pan Macmillan India host bestselling kids author Julia Donaldson
​​
Crossword Bookstores, at its store in Kemps Corner, held a special event on monday. It was a book- signing and a meet & greet session with the bestselling childrens' author, Julia Donaldson, in association with publisher Pan Macmillan.

The children kept lining up, to see the creator of the magical stories, that they so love.

For the uninitiated, Julia Donaldson is a prize-winning author. Even though she started her career as a singer-songwriter, writing mainly for children’s television, a song of hers ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ was made into her first book in 1993 after a publisher approached her. Since then, she has written some of the world's best loved children's books.

Welcoming her to Crossword Bookstores for the book-signing, Maulik Desai, Head Crossword bookstores said, “Crossword bookstores is the place where authors and book lovers meet. We are honoured to host a signing session for Julia Donaldson, whose character ‘The Gruffalo' is one of the world’s best-loved monsters. "

Julia has been honoured in the past as the seventh Children’s Laureate. Because of her background in music and drama, she focussed on ‘stories in performance’ during her two years in office(2011-2013) as Laureate.



The author was seen signing book copies which were available for sale, and interacting with the children. When asked about India & why children love her books so much, the much-loved author said, “ Our journey to India has been overwhelming. The people here have been kind." Also speaking about the journey as an author to India,she added,"  people have displayed a joy of reading books. The teachers also encourage the reading habit in children. The visit to Mumbai has been the busiest among all the cities. I have two shows lined up tomorrow. The shows which was held today in the morning was housefull. It's a pleasure interacting with these little book lovers".

It was a fun filled evening for the children with activities and delicacies, which included tattoo art, book character acts and impromptu quiz about the author & book titles. Questions relating to Julia Donaldson's book were asked to the children. The winners were gifted copies of Julia's book.


Julia was also seen dancing and performing with the little kiddos out there on the tunes of  ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’, the famous song by Julia Donaldson and perform  'The Graffalo" with her husband and the the team members.

The highlight of the show was the Gruffalo mascot which came to India for the first time. Children and parents loved getting themselves clicked with the Gruffalo.

Café Moshes also made cupcakes around Julia Donaldson book titles.