Gently falls the Bakula by Sudha Murthy

BakulaSudha Murty is one of my favorite authors and I have read all her books. While reading her books, there is such a lot to learn and her books actually have a positive impact.

“Gently falls the Bakula” is the story of Shrikant and Shrimati and the Bakula Flower. It begins when both Shrikant and Shrimati are students of Model High School, Hubli and revolves around their competitiveness in both curricular and extra curricular activities in school. She usually tops the competitions. They are neighbours, share the same surname but their families do not get along with each other. The only common thing between them is the Bakula tree which stands in the space between the two houses.
They gradually fall in love and after Class XII, Shrikant goes to IIT to become an engineer and Shrimati does her MA in history and they decide to get married. Shrikant’s mother and sister do not accept Shrimati. They go to Bombay where Shrikant proves himself in the software industry and becomes the MD. Shrimati supports him through it.
She realizes that her life is empty and decides to follow her dreams.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin

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Calcutta : Two Years in the city by Amit Chaudhuri

Calcutta : Two Years in the city by Amit ChaudhuriJust after this book was released, I heard Amit Chaudhury talk about his years in Calcutta, first when he used to spend his childhood vacations and then when he stayed there for two years. I got fascinated and bought the book. He beautifully describes his two years (2009-2011) in the city, after living in Bombay and London, in first person.

Not only has he mentioned about the famous places of Calcutta like the Park Street, Flurys, New Market, Mocambo, Oxford Book Store, the clubs and Melody, he has also touched on various topics like the homeless, the migrants from adjoining states, the domestic helps, watchmen and people who run small establishments like Ramayan Shah of Chandan Hotel on Free School Street. He talks about the lengths at which he went to purchase a Green French Window (karkharis) from a derelict house. In one of the chapters, he has mentioned about the political scenario in the city. In High Tea, he talks about the lives of Samir and Anita Mukherjee and the exquisite sandwiches they serve at high tea. In Italians Abroad, a chef tells him, “The Indians want things prepared in their way. It was too much for the Italians to take. It drove them mad”, which is an exact description of a chef at a restaurant being told how to cook a particular thing.

I particularly liked Study Leave possibly because it had described Durga Puja and its preparations in the paras, and the stories that surround the Puja. He even mentions about his family, how he wants his daughter to have a Calcutta childhood. He has very beautifully described the bond between the grandfather and the granddaughter.

The green French windows are so Calcutta. His description of Park Street, Flurys, New Market made me feel very nostalgic. I remembered Flury’s (famous confectionery on Park Street) pastries, the Chinese shoe shops in New Market and bookstores on College Street.

The simple language that he has used in the book has made it more interesting. His use of words like Ingabanga (Anglo-Bengalis), Marwaris, bhadralok, conti (continental), makes the book more interesting. Using suffixes like da and di, in the traditional way, makes us relate to the characters more. Bengali terms like keu ache, mojor chehra, have made it more enjoyable.

There are parts of the book that I liked much and at places felt that he was very cynical about certain things. More like a thesis. Overall, a nice book, but the icing on the cake is the cover, the pink colour is very attractive, it actually makes anyone pick the book off a shelf and read it.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin

A strange and sublime address by Amit Chaudhuri

A strange and sublime address by Amit ChaudhuryAs I sit down to pen my thoughts about `A Strange and Sublime Address` by Amit Chaudhuri, I go back down the memory lane, reminiscing my childhood vacations that we spent at our grandfather’s place where all of us cousins would have the best times of our lives.

Sandeep, an only child living in a Bombay, comes with his mother to his maternal uncle’s house to spend his vacations with his cousins Abhi and Babla. This book has a mention of two such vacations one and a half year apart, one in the summers and one in the winters of the following year. The way the kids spend their time in the summer vacation, looking at the pigeons, watching the passers by, sitting on the balcony, looking at the palm tree in the neighborhood reflects how innocent childhood is. The story has been narrated in a very descriptive manner and some of the scenes can actually be visualised. I really enjoyed this part of the book.

Nine short stories follow the main book. These stories are very different in nature and essence from the main book and most of them, actually all except one leave the reader expecting more out of the story as they end abruptly.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin

The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic by Anna MM Veticad

The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic by Anna MM Veticad Anna MM Vetticad, I salute you. Hats off to you for watching all 121 Hindi films that were released in 2011 in the NCR (National Capital Region), reviewing them and interviewing the people who made them. This is what The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic about. It talks about film making, film marketing and film criticism.

It is about the movies which successful and movies that never made it to mainstream cinema possibly, due to inadequate marketing. She talks about small, beautiful films that are released and go off the theaters within a week of the release and no one has ever heard of them. She mentions about a rich businessman financing a film for himself because he wants to be a hero, about a father who is well connected and wants his son to be a film star. She talks about talented people who never make it to the limelight and beautiful stories that touch the heart.

She has appreciated films starring children and also tells us how Amole Gupte made “Stanley ka dabba” with kids who had fun, did not miss school or knowing that they were being filmed. Interviews with persons like Vidya Balan, Rohit Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Onir (Anirban Dhar), Nitesh Tiwari and Sohail Lakhani (a talented actor who trained Ranbir Kapoor for his role as a deaf-mute person in Barfi) are also a part of the book.

I liked the book a lot, though I am not a movie buff, but it still made me want to watch movies like ‘I am’, Kaccha Limboo and Bubble Gum.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Om Books International

NEW MARKET TALES by Jayant Kriplani

NEW MARKET TALES by Jayant KriplaniNew Market Tales is a collection of eleven short stories by Jayant Kripalani. All of them have different characters except one, where a reference is made to one from a previous story. These stories are named after the main character. All the stories are very different from each other, touching some part of our daily life. Some are romantic, some inspirational, some comic and some tragic. All of them have one thing in common: they are all placed in New Market, Calcutta.

Reading this book, I could get a glimpse of “Calcutta”. As the stories unfold, I felt that the author has actually met the characters he has written about. He has written some words in the way a Bengali person would pronounce it like Sair (sir), waarth (worth), thees (this), gayt (get), phor (for), hwanderful (wonderful) and aks (for ask) to mention a few.

The first story is about ‘Francis D’Costa’, the son of a baker, who is determined to become a jewellery maker. Homi, a Parsi boy living with his mother and her seven cats in a dilapidated building at Dharmatala Street and hates them to such an extent that he goes and gets a dog for himself. He wants to make a one-act play about his life and even composes a song to open the play. Amol, an acquaintance from Calcutta working in a stationery shop in New York, is a very enterprising and positive person. This is reflected when asked about how he lost his legs, he says “so many sad stories in the world…if people do not know one more, there will be no harm” and when he can stand up with the help of prosthetics, he says,” This story you can tell. People need happy stories”.

Rathikanta Chatterjee, nicknamed Atiklanta, meaning “so weary”, sleeps whenever he gets a chance. He does not eat rice, saying, “Rice, you see, makes me very sleepy.” He goes to Darjeeling for holiday and becomes “Mr Bahadur Singh”. Gopa, the daughter of Ganguly Gainjeewallah (also known as Binod Brawala), owner of an undergarments shop, wants her father to appoint female salespersons. She learns a lot about business and life when she insists on being the first woman to stand behind the counter. Mita, a woman with two children, comes to her ex-boyfriend’s house because her husband is having an affair.

Harish gives up his routine life, disappears, returns as Hari, opens a bar ‘11 to 11’ to serve people drinks and listen to their troubles. Zack’s is about a lady, Sati G, owner of the nightclub, labelled as “dishonourable” by the Sindhi ladies of Calcutta. She tells the story about the younger days of her life and how it was transformed by political and social circumstances. Anustup and Mamlu is a very positive story about what people go through when they have to get themselves for HIV/AIDS, especially when they have had a contact with a person who has tested positive for the disease, how people react when someone introduces himself/ herself as, “I am HIV positive”. What touched me most about the story was that it was written both from Anustup and Mamlu’s perspectives.

Anila, a lady who wants to leave both her husband and her lover, weaves a fairy tale about a king, his son and the son’s Guru which was very confusing that I could not understand it. Hari Prasad Condoo, aka Mesho is the proprietor of the largest crockery and cutlery shop in the market and the only person, from the previous generation, who the youngsters thought was worth listening to. He weaves stories about his crystals, his subject walks and his childhood. Suddenly, after a trip to Varanasi, hi decides to take a Samadhi and his family cannot talk him out of it.

I found this book very interesting overall.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Panmacmillan

POWDER ROOM by Shefalee Vasudev

POWDER ROOM by Shefalee VasudevI heard Shefalee Vasudev talk to Chris on Radio One, Delhi about her book Powder Room: The untold story of Indian Fashion, on my way to work one morning. She was narrating the story of the Ludhiana Ladies who actually want to feel, wear and look “Branded”. This really caught my attention and I went ahead and bought the book. All the chapters of the book have a story to tell. She has covered the many parts of India and tried to give an insiders view of the Fashion industry.

The first chapter, ‘Dry Clean Only’ is the story of Raakesh Agarvwal, a successful designer who trained under Tarun Tahiliani. He defends India’s obsession with bling. The second chapter, ‘Price on request’ is about Jennifer, a girl from a middle class family, working for an unnamed luxury store in DLF Emporio. She knows how to address a customer and sells clothes at prices that are six times her monthly salary. The third chapter, ‘The Ludhiana Ladies’ is all about their obsession with brands which cover them from head to toe. She mentions about how money drives them. The fourth chapter, ‘Walk, Don’t talk’ is about Nagma, a small time model who wants to become an actress. ‘Boy, Interrupted’ is about Imcha Imchen from Nagland, a former student of NID who suffers from bipolar disorder and invites the author to the Hornbill Festival in the North-east. ‘The Raja and the Yuvraj’ is about Rohit Bal (the Raja) and Sabyasachi (Yuvraj) and their designs. ‘Ladies Tailor’ is about the various tailors and boutiques that work out of garages and copy the designer outfits the heroines wear in the film.

My favourite ‘In the red’ is about the Patan Patola Saree of Gujarat, an heirloom,  in which she meets and interviews weavers from Gujarat and describes the intricacies of making the saree. ‘Peanuts as Salary, Free Trips to Paris’ is about journalists getting free trips abroad in lieu of positive reviews.

Overall, a good reference book for the people who want to know the nitty grittys of the Indian fashion industry.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Random House India