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A Love Life so Painful
Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai
Those enchanted four and half years
One and a Half Wife
The Bankster
Love You Forever : Only In That Way
Nine Lives
The Mistress of Spices
The Fortune Hunters
I Too Had A Love Story..
Ladies Coupé
The Krishna Key
Mumbaistan: 3 Explosive Crime Thrillers
Of Tattoos and Taboos!
Left from Dhakeshwari
I loved a Street woman
Chanakya's Chant
Dreams in Prussian Blue

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review : My Journey With Vadapav by Venkatesh Iyer

Title: My Journey With Vadapav
Author: Venkatesh Iyer
Publisher: TV18 Broadcast Limited (CNBC TV18) 

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Business

Date:  2016

Price: INR 216 (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 150

Before I begin to write about the content of this book I would like to tell you that its rare these days for a book to have a great feel, like a product would give you, made with perfection, keeping its entire feel in mind . The hard bound edition of this book is one such creation after a long time in the business genre.

Its coverpage design, giving the feel of Mumbai, the city where the dish originated, where a lot of lives survive only on vadapav in the struggling days; drawn in sketch (I am a fan of what sketch can do  to depict a concept in my opinion is ideal for concept depiction), in the colours of vadapav gives you a feeling of being at the place where it all began.

For a brief introduction "Goli Vadapav" is one of the most unique business concepts that put indian vada-pav on a pedestal similar to the western burgers (like Mc Donalds and KFC) did. It's success as a business model is depicted by the fact that Harvard teaches it in its B-school and so do many other good business schools worldwide. All this happened because Venkatesh Iyer was a non-classical thinker in his family and had a crazy dream of doing "the one thing" worthwhile in the Indian food industry.

Venkatesh Iyer begins his story from the beginning, a description of his own traits in early life and career and his love for one dish that was central to Mumbai "vada-pav" as opposed to "idli sambhar", the more expected choice from anyone hailing from the south of India. He begins to describe his idols in people even bollywood film stars which makes you immediately connect to him as a person, for nobody in India cannot be left untouched by the fevers of Indian cinema. Despite being a tycoon his entire story has this tone maintained, that of a commoner which inspires one emphatically. 

The  story then ofcourse moves into the details of successes and failures in creating this venture. The lessons to learn are to go on despite no matter what, to believe in your niche idea, where and where not to take suggestions, the challenges and merits of collaborations from his point of view and his journey. What I however found extremely bizzare in the story was "how did they not thing about uniformity of formulation problem before starting it all?". 

Overall it is the journey of a common man in making a street food product hygienic and standard. Read it for the love of vada-pav.

RC Rating: 4/5. 

Grab a copy here:

Book Review: The Mask Diaries by Abhinav Goel

Title: The Mask Diaries
AuthorAbhinav Goel
Publisher: Bennet Coeman (Times Group)

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2017

Price: INR 193/ Kindle- INR 206

Pages: 232

The Mask Diaries begins with the story of a child, a not so bright one who has various issues. His life has no love as he losses his mother at a very young age, is not valued by his father for being below average at grades, has a slight limp in his leg, so on and so forth. Like every being he wishes to be loved and adored. One day while facing a circumstance, he discovers a friend that helps him conquer his monsters. The sad part is this friend is within him and calls himself "the mask". The entire story then moves around the relationship of this boy with this mask as his life progresses and how it evolves or changes him. The boy both loves and hates the mask and the same is true for the mask. They have a relationship of being symbiotic and parasitic beings for each other.

The concept begins beautifully as the boy discovers this mask, their initial conversation, understandings etc. are very philosophical in nature. The whole concept of giving "the mask" an identity of "a being" is amazing. The story then take various turns which challenge the character and the mask getting the reader intrigued. Right in the middle of it all when you think this book is a perfect philosophical endeavor all goes on the downhill slope. I believe the author is lost here unable to expand the concept, the battle and it just becomes a mundane story. Also the entire path of conversation, growth etc. just stunts at this phase and there is a huge disconnect leaving a huge craving emanating from the hope the author himself created in the beginning. I found the style very similar to the trajectory Paulo Coehlo takes often with his philosophies, but in my opinion justice isn't done to the concept that looked promising in the beginning. On the whole story did have a potential to be a good work but it misses the point in the second half.

The plot is amazing and the book should be read by everyone who likes a philosophical jigsaw puzzle or is planning to write one. For the author I can just suggest a thinking through and a good agent at this stage.

RC Rating: 3/5. For the concept and the effort. Read it when you need a different flavour in your story. 

Grab a copy here:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Giveaway!!! The THC: Under A Gibbous Moon by Manoj Jain

Hello Readers, hope you are reading amazing books :) :) :). We bring you a chance to win one more for your collection "The THC: Under A Gibbous Moon by Manoj Jain"


About The Book:

“Now look at the person in the mirror and tell her that you love her.” 

Sanjaneka stared and stared, unable to utter the simple words aloud.
Why is Sanjaneka unable to love herself? What past is she running away from? 
How does an Uber ride help Samar to save his marriage?
Why does the dull moonlight of a gibbous moon trouble Varun so much?

Three lives. One Utopian centre.
The Total Holistic Centre (The THC) welcomes the broken and those looking for closure through its doors and works its magic to return them to the world fulfilled. This is the story of these three troubled souls who seek solace at the centre, indulge in its unusual treatment and find the cures to their ailments in surprising places.

A book on loss, longing and changing circumstances, The THC dives into uncomfortable topics that are usually swept under the rug: fragile relationships, deteriorating marriages, addictions, impotence, and the delicate bond between fathers and sons.

Welcome to the THC...

All you have to do to win a copy of this book is tell us about "a fear you have and how do you overcome it?" in comments answers win!

We have 5 copies of the book to be given what are you waiting for???

This contest is open to Indian residents only. 

The contest ends at 11:59 pm on 10th May 2017...hurry!!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

People Called Ahmedabad: Creators, Critics and the Curator – Part 2

The readers of this portal by now are familiar with the project called "People Called Ahmedabad", if not please check this link:

Since we could write only about a few very talented individuals who have been involved in the project in the last article, I am writing about a few more in this article. Lets hear their story in their own voices...

Shivani Mehta is a 22 year old, final year architecture student, studying currently in the KamlaRahejaVidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai. Her internship at Sangath, under Balkrishna Doshi brought her to Ahmedabad for six months. She loved writing and so began to pen stories that were around her waiting to be told, here is hers: “People called Ahmedabad happened during the six months I was in the city and got me interested instantly because I have always enjoyed writing. Exploring a new city not only through photographs or sketches, but understanding it through conversations with people seemed like a concept too beautiful to miss.

There were no stories I actually went in search for. I don't think I really felt the need even to do that because I was surrounded by so many all this while. I just came across so many interesting stories during visits to exhibitions or heard about them from being part of conversations with colleagues,that it became even more exciting then to discover more about Ahmedabad from people whose stories they were.In 'Khaman : A tradition', almost a century old shop talks about the love for food that the city has. The story on a family in Ganesh Galli, titled 'The Limbodicolouredbasti' delayers life in an informal settlement in the city and brought out aspects beyond just their livelihood.'Weaving heritage' is a story about Shahidhusain Ansari, a zardoshi artist and his unusual way of capturing the heritage of the old city.

It surprised me how much I could learn every time I happened to have a five minute conversation with people I didn't know and might not meet again. Heritage, the food culture, occupations of people, might be regular ways of describing the city of Ahmedabad. But having met people who have actually had parts to play in forming this description, only deepened my understanding of the city, made me feel closer to the people who reside here, but more importantly made me realize there is just so much more to explore.”

Abhishek Jain (The world’s a Stage… or Screen), is considered by many to be one of the pioneers of modern Gujarati cinema, yet he hardly takes any credit for that. All he knows is that he wants to bring people home, to Amdavad, through cinema, and empower others to do so...not riding the waves of Bollywood. Films are big budget- audiences for regional cinemas are small, especially in Gujarat. But his hard work and commitment meant one of Cineman’s latest productions, Wrong Side Raju, was co sponsored by AnuragKashyap’s Phantom films.

At Seva café, there was passion and compassion in subtle service. It was homely, welcoming and warm. Service is not just defined by the scale of acts, but also by the love it brings out. One really desires to wash dishes, clean the floor, cook food, serve food, without any expectations, but out of love and joy, and Seva café offers such a space

At Clay Club, what inspired me was the organic way creativity flowed from being a passionate college club to full-fledged business. Again, art is a hard niche to sell in, but unfazed by college credits and career prospects, the artists pushed on, now creating stuff out of clay and in another initiative, banana leaf paper.

With theatre artists such as Aditi Desai (The World’s a Stage.. or Screen) and DakxinChhara(Finding a New Identity), there was confidence in the change that they could bring. Both had quite different upbringings, and different styles of theatre. Yet both believed that no obstacle is too great that it can stop the effort on bringing out social equality and awareness. I remember the fierce energy in their eyes, the belief that people need to experience theatre as a form of self-empowerment, of social awareness, of helping victims of abuse, of activism. Lack of money, social stigma, etc could not faze them.”

Pramada Jagtap is a final year student of KRVIA, an architecture school in Mumbai. She did her Internship in February 2016, with professorNeelkanthChhaya that got her toAhmedabad. Herbachelors thesis that I am currently working on revolves around the inner city ahmedabad, for which she was out studying the area during most of my free time which she incorporates into the book lovingly. In her words it is all a work of passion:
 “I came across the project and seemed very interesting because unlike the mapping methods that I have adopted in school, this involved mapping through people's stories. It was a newer exercise for me, that didn't involve documenting through drawings, which was something that i was comfortable with. Since I wasn't from the city, it was an opportunity to know it better through these interactions. 

Each story allowed me to understand the city a little better. Professor Chhaya gave me leads to a lot of stories, some which couldn't be included in the book, but have left a lasting impression on me. The interview with Kartikeya Sarabhai was one such encounter. His stories and observations about the city were particularly interesting, especially a magazine he had curated during the 90s called 'Amdavad Ma' which was similar to the people place project, but during a different decade. Each story led me onto my next and yet another. The best part of being a writer for PCA was undoubtedly my interactions with the interviewees.”

Pray Bavishi is an “amdavadi” (hails from Ahmedabad) and holds a Masters degree in economics and is currently pursuing second Masters in Public Administration. His journey with Ahmedabad and its story has been more intense and began much before the book. He has many to tell, his own to begin with, “Writing has always been my passion so somewhere about a year ago I decided to put my writing into a good use and started the blog called Humans of Amdavad on Facebook where I started to document the stories of Ahmedabad city.  I decided to write about unsung heroes of the city and so far I have covered more than 100 stories for my page and have more than 10,000 followers and my stories have been published at national as well as International media platforms.

When Nisha approached me with the idea of the People Called Ahmedabad, I was thrilled and excited to be part of the book as a co-author. For me it was an honor to be a part of this project where I could write about the people of my city. It has been an amazing experience and so far the journey has been beautiful. People Called Ahmedabad made me realize that Ahmedabad isn’t just a city but it a feeling in itself and it made me show that Ahmedabad too has a big heart.

The stories which I have covered show how beautiful the people are in the city. While covering stories for my own blog I come across number of stories but these stories were something which had a huge impact on me and they were close to my heart. These people made me realize that people are much more than their outer appearance and it’s their work that speaks out loud.”