Growing up in Pandupur by Adithi and Chatura Rao

growing-up-in-pandupur-original-imaev4xkdbgdfgdj.jpegI received the book “Growing Up in Pandupur” by Adithi and Chatura Rao as a review copy from the publisher and would like to thank them for the same. It is a collection of thirteen short stories of children aged between seven and thirteen residing in a little town of Pandupur on the bank of River Dhun. The book has been beautifully illustrated by Krishna Bala Shenoi.

The Blurb:
Welcome to Pandupur!
With its bustling marketplace and honking traffic, posh colonies and shanty towns, dam and forest, Pandupur means many things to the children who live there. Just like the river Dhun that flows by, it teems with life….
Through Pandupur’s children, Adithi and Chatura Rao weave a web of tales – life lessons in growing up. The laughter, the small unkindest and surprising friendships in these stories will resonate in the hearts of children everywhere.

My take:
The book begins with a map which shows the location of all the landmarks of Pandupur as mentioned in the various stories. This is followed by a poetry on River Dun. Though each story can be read as a standalone, there are common characters which connect the stories. The stories have been written beautifully in simple english. The characters were such that I could easily connect with them.
The first story –“Polka-dotted Party” is about a boy who has great plans for his thirteenth birthday party….In “Goblins”, a twelve year old wants to be a goblin and so he forms a band with his friends and they call themselves Hobgobs One. “Changing Chintamani” is about a boy who wants to go for a football training camp.
“The House Painted Blue” is about three little girls who are curious about a house in their colony. “Mallipoo, Free” is about the bond between humans and elephants. “Nisha” is the story of a small girl who is a victim of child abuse.
“About Grandfathers and Trees” is the story of a young boy and his grandfather who, he thinks, is a magician. “Sister Song” is the story of two sisters. “For Preet” is the story of a girl who wants someone to talk to. “A Boat in the Rain” is about a boy from Mumbai who does not like to be in Pandupur. “Evenings in 201” is the story of a boy and a Brigadier. “Warm-fuzzy” is about how kids think about one another and the last story “The River Came Home”, is about how certain incidents in life change us.
The stories made me smile, they made me cry and some left me wanting more.
I loved the book and am sure it will make a place in the hearts of all the readers, adults and children alike.
An excellent book. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic

No Touch by K Krishna

51OVKY8XkfL.jpgI received the book ‘No Touch’ by K. Krishna as a review copy from the publisher and I would like to thank them for the same. This is the first book in the WATCH OUT Series. It is a picture book that helps parents open a conversation with their kids about good-touch bad-touch.

As a parent and a doctor, I felt incompetent to talk to my daughter about good touch and bad touch because I did not know how to broach the topic. I would browse the net and still feel uncomfortable.

This book has given me an idea as to how to talk to my children about it.

A must read for all parents.

Book Source: publisher

Publisher: Scolastic

 

Release Day Blitz ~ Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

~ Release Day Blitz ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th August, 2017
Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?
Read an Excerpt
“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard.
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child.
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded.
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out.
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them.
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead.
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door.
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised.
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy.
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm.
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”
Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”
“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”
“That does not answer my question.”
“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?”
The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure.
When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”
“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”
Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern.
“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet.
The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding.
“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon.
The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?”
“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink.
She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love…” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment.
It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!
“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away.
He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him.
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life.
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved.
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
 “K… King…”
Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move.
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him.
Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?
Sukratu would never know.
About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

 

Someone to Love by Ruchita Misra 

51beEfSJsGL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSomeone to Love by Ruchita Misra is one book  which made me cry and not realize that I was crying. I read this book twice and cried the second time again. This book is the story of Koyal and Atharv- once friends- ex-soulmates- lock and key- pieces of a puzzle.

The blurb:

Not everyone is lucky enough to find this kind of love. Koyal and Atharv are childhood friends. They are also soulmates. Confidantes. Kindred spirits. They are made for each other- only, neither of them seems to have figured it out just yet. As they grow into adulthood, they turn to each other in sorrow and joy, only becoming closer. But then one day, something happens, and their rare friendship is cruelly transformed into something a lot like hatred. Atharv, scarred and hurt, fumes with anger, while impetuous Koyal presses the self-destruct button.

Years later, just when they’ve both found peace within themselves, their paths cross again. And destiny, that strange creature, has a few tricks up her sleeve. Will these two ever forgive each other? Or have they already lost their one chance to find someone to love?

The story:

Arthav Jayakrishna and Koyal Hansini Raje are friends since they were five years old. They are 4 am friends- neighbours- soul mates. He knows when she needs him and she fights for him. He is the calmer one and she, the aggressive one. She feels that their friendship is like the sea- deep and endless. He creates an email id for her on her twelfth birthday and she never uses it.

Their mothers Surya and Priya are friends. Once they finish school, Atharv gets admission into Indian Medical Institute, Delhi and in order to be near him, Koyal takes up admission in an engineering college in Ghaziabad. And the two of them leave Bhopal and move to Delhi.

On the first day of college, Atharv meets Nili Verma, his classmate. They become friends but his friendship with Koyal remains the same. Until one day, Koyal cuts off all communication with Atharv. She does not even tell her parents what happened and forces them to stop talking to the Jayakrishnas. Atharv comes to Bhopal looking for Koyal but is disappointed and hurt to find their family gone with no address.

Koya leaves her studies, gets married to Amit and tolerates getting abused by him for four years after which she finds the courage to divorce him. She comes back at her parents’ place with no friends, no money, no career and no education. Her father has not spoken to her in years, her brother is busy with his own life and her mother is unwell. Her brother and father are disappointed but the only person who supports her is her unwell mother who dies.

Six years after her mother’s death and after completing her MBA from IIM Bangalore, Koyal is on the way to London where she would be working as Global head of product at Sunsoft, she meets Mrs Hema Chandra, professor of marketing at London Business School and they become friends. Hema and her husband like Koyal and she becomes a regular visitor to their house. While visiting the Chandras on Mr Chandra’s birthday, Koyal comes face to face with Atharv, a renowned paediatric neurosurgeon.

After 10 long years, the best friends are now strangers. Initially, she refuses to acknowledge him. She meets his mother and daughter, Mansha. Initially, she does not want to like Mansha, as she reminds her of Nili, but then she remembers her mother’s words and Mansha and she get along well together, until one day………..

My take:

The book has been divided into two parts and moves between the past and the present. The first part is till Koyal comes back home after divorcing Amit and the second part begins six years later when Koyal is on the way to London. The first part is in India and the second in London.

The story has been written from Komal’s point of view. The characters are realistic and have been beautifully portrayed. The inner strengths and weakness of the characters has been beautifully depicted. The feelings of the characters, their inter-personal relationships and the conversations between them have been described beautifully. The scenes have been described very well. Both these things put together, I felt that I was watching a movie.

The simple story written in a simple language with so many emotions thrown in makes it a book worth reading again and again. There is friendship, love, jealousy, hatred, loss and tragedy. The story flows at a comfortable pace.

A beautiful, beautiful read.

Publisher: Harlequin/ Harper Collins India

 

Book Blast: Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal

Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal
Indian Mythological Fiction
~ Book Blitz ~
11th August, 2017

 

When Satyavati, wife of Rishi Ruchik,
exchanges with her mother the magic potion for bearing a child, they change not
just their children’s destiny, but also the history of mankind. Born of this
mix up is Vishwamitra, the son of a Kshatriya, who strives to become a
Brahmarishi—the ultimate and most powerful of all Gurus.
Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a
brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who
not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes
one of the most well-known sages of all times.
If you like… Then you will enjoy Vishwamitra
  1. If you like to read about India’s rich, ancient history, in an easy to read manner, you will love Vishwamitra
  2. If you have ever wondered if the ancients had any knowledge of space & science, you should check out Vishwamitra, the story of the man who created an entire new star system!
  3. If you like reading romance, take time to check out this unlikely love story between a human and an Apsara! Did you know Vishwamitra & Menaka lived together for ten long years?
  4. If you like reading stores that inspire –  check out Vishwamitra, the story of an ordinary man who even dared to challenge the gods!
  5. If you have liked any retelling of India’s original epic Ramayan, you should check out Vishwamitra –  the story of the man who became the guru of Rama, the Scion of Ikshvaku!

 

About the Author
Dr. Vineet
Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by
profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he
successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before
deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues
writing and photography as a passion.
He is the author
of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against
Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who
dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’
 
 

 

‘Moongphali’ by Neha Singh and Mukesh Chhabra

9788129148131.jpgWhen we were young and would travel by train, there would be vendors who used to sell the groundnut or the Moongphali in the train and call it ‘timepass’. Maybe they still do. I remember precisely that I would have been five or six and had never seen the groundnut with its outer shell, so when I saw it for the first time while travelling, I told my mother ‘Dhakkan waali Moongphali’ or groundnut with a lid and the name has stuck with our family. In the hostel, there were these two brothers, who would come and sell them in papercones and we would spend our afternoons shelling and eating the nuts. This nut is still a favourite in almost all Indian households during the winter with different names.

I received the book ‘Moongphali’ by Neha Singh and Mukesh Chhabra as a review copy from the publisher Rupa Publications. This book has been beautifully illustrated by Sonal Gupta Vaswani. I would like to thank them for the same.

The blurb:

MOONGPHALI IS JUST LIKE THE ENRICHING PEANUTS WE ALL LOVE. OPEN IT TO SAVOR HEART-WARMING CHILDREN’S STORIES- FOR ONE AND ALL.

Nandu wants to go to his school fancy-dress competition dressed as a king, but his mother makes him wear a foolish-looking watermelon costume instead.

Dolly and Sunny are leading a happy life as a pair of genius twins, till they wish for their clones.
All Poonam wants is the perfect pair of blue and white slippers, and she finds them too, except that they belong to someone else.

Sher and Samandar are best friends till a piece of mysterious rock turns them into sworn enemies.

Meet these kids and many others like them in this very delightful collection, MOONGPHALI. Funny, adventurous, smart and mischievous, these are children from all parts of India. They speak different languages, eat all kinds of food, live in homes that look totally unlike each other, yet you will find a bit of yourself in each one of them. Relish these stories and relive your childhood with your kids.

My take:

This book is a collection of eight short stories written by Neha Singh and Mukesh Chhabra. The illustrations are beautiful and the cover is an instant pick me up.

The stories have been written in simple English which is easily understandable and each story comes with a moral which goes in subtly without being obvious.

After each story, there is a small activity also for the child to do.

Loved the book immensely and would definitely recommend to children and adults alike.

Medium Fast and Furious by Rahul Oak

41OoqR3K3GL._SY346_.jpg

Every parent wants their children to do well and succeed in life. When my son keeps his homework aside and starts playing cricket in the bedroom, I tell him that there is only one Dhoni but many doctors and engineers.

Medium Fast and Furious by Rahul Oak is the story of a young boy whose passion is cricket and who aspires to be a fast bowler. This book is like his memoir- the story of a few students of St Anthony’s High School in Bandra Bombay- the story of Raju and some of his friends who spend precious few years of their lives dreaming about lifting the shiny shield of KL Rao cricket tournament, the be all and end all of cricket tournaments. I received the book as a review copy from the publisher and would like to thank them for the same.

The blurb:

Cricket is his passion.

Wasim Akram is his hero.

And Raju Prabhakar aspires to be a fast bowler.

But mild-mannered and clumsy, he drops catches and is a mediocre bowler and has wrong-footed action.

To top it all, his parents would much rather he focused on becoming an engineer like his father.

Will Raju’s dream of winning the KL Rao cricket tournament cup for his school team ever come true?

Set in Bandra, Bombay, in the ‘90s, this book is a coming-of-age story of cricket, puppy love, nepotism, power struggles, class differences and much more.

The story:

Rajiv Prabhakar, Raju, an eleven year old, belongs to a typical middle class Maharashtrian family and stays with his parents and grandparents in a high rise flat in Bandra, Bombay. His grandfathers enjoy cricket, his grandmother pampers him and all this is balanced by his iron-fisted mother. He studies in St Anthony’s High School in Mumbai, wants to do is make it to the school cricket team and win the KL Rao cricket tournament but his parents want him to follow his father’s footsteps and become an engineer, and not a cricketer. Gopal, his friend both in the society and at school, also wants to be a part of the cricket team.

Raju feels that his name has something to do with his cricketing skills (Venkatpathy RAJU + Manoj PRABHAKAR). He wants to become a fast bowler and does not want the word medium near his name. He wants to prove everyone in the family wrong and blames his family for lack of opportunity as only someone with prominent family connections made it to the school cricket team if they are not in class 9. He gets an opportunity to become a ball boy for the school cricket team in class eight and gets selected in the school cricket team in the 1992-93 season. His coach, Sir Kumar selects him for the team but does not like the way he bowls and asks him to change his bowling style. They lose to their arch rivals in the first season only to come back in the second season with a new coach, Mr Mishra

My take:

A simple story written beautifully in first person from the point of view of Raju. His feelings have been described beautifully. The author talks about life in India in the nineties. He has also used favourite words used by various commentators across the globe.

The descriptions of the matches made me feel that I was watching the match on the TV and during the last part of the book, I was on the edge of my seat.

There is a glossary of Marathi terms as wll as cricket terms at the end of the book.

Loved the book immensely. Highly recommended to all children and adults whether they love or hate cricket.

Publisher: Scholastic

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.