February 23, 2012

Losing my Virginity and other dumb ideas by Madhuri Banerjee

Vivid and Spunky says Shobha De

One should never confuse between love, relationships and sex. I thought this was the most important take away for me from this book.

In life, we come across many situations where we do not know how a relationship will pan out, but living in the moment and not looking too deeply into matters help in creating space and hence developing our personality, drawing from learnings through these various interactions.

The plot deals with 2 friends, working, single and completely different from each other. One of them on reaching 30, decide its time to  lose the tag of a virgin and not wait for the Mr.Perfect. The other friend is much more experienced in the matter of love and sex, hence sets about getting this project de-virginisation done. From here, it is a ride of relationships, love and letting go the ones you love. Love and relationships, be it between friends, parent and child, lovers, a fling. Each of them have a place in our lives.

When I started with this book, I was skeptical, and thought with the setting in the first 2 chapters, it was to be another chick-lit which I was oh-so not fond of. I must say that I was proven completely wrong and soon I was drawn into the book and was yearning to finish it. The plot moved seamlessly and the book did speak to me. There was something there for me to relate to from my college days, courting days and now being married. What is the important details one considers when thinking of marriage, and what changes once you are? How does the female and male mind think? And think differently, they do.

Another aspect which I loved was how the freedom of youth and being responsible for only ones self was portrayed. It is a wonderful feeling which I lived truly through this book. It does make one reminiscent of the past and the wonders of how years change one's life. I must also add that this book did inspire me to not give up my own identity and become a shadow of someone. That is a very simple thing to do and in the process lose oneself in a very deep gorge. The book also has a very nice view on compromises and where to draw the line. Losing love after all the compromises makes the situation so much more worse than it might already be. Having a hold on oneself and believing are two things which are very much rooted in the book.

I have recommended this book to two of my very close girl friends, as I know they too would cherish college and old days through these pages and you should pick it up too to experience those college care-free love days!

February 15, 2012

Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan

This would be my first read in the historic fiction category. I was always wary of how I would like to read history in a leisure activity, but I must say that the historic facts are very seamlessly looped into the story and one does not feel over burdened by facts at any point.

The plot is set in the court of Emperor Shah Jahan, the mughal emperor of Imperial India and the story begins with the death of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Following this incident we have the eldest daughter Jahanara talking over the duties of the Imperial Zenana and tending to all her fathers needs and being the perfect First Woman of the court at the tender age of 17. In due course we see how her brothers as they grow up start to dream of wearing the crown one day and one of them is set on it from the very start. Jahanara becomes completely involved in the activities of court and laden with duties somehow do not know how or when she will have a family of her own, and she is in for a shock when she broaches the subject with her father. Being a woman, falling in love, bearing a child, all she does with the power of being the supreme woman in the Imperial Zenana, but still marriage is not allowed for her on the pretext that her father, the Emperor needs her too much give her away in marriage.

The running of an empire in the Mughal era has been extremely well portrayed and how the princes from a very young age know the rules of kingdom and how each one shall be assigned a role to play. Amongst them also, there are princes who see themselves as more worthy of the crown than others and there are others who are seen more than their true worth. How this feeling within them changes their behaviour and their interaction with their siblings from a very young age. We see that through the book, as they grow older, there is a distinct attachment between some siblings and a more distinct rivalry between some. The emperor sees and discards these rivalries which eventually does become the reason for one of his sons to take the throne and make him a prisoner till death.

The novel is written in a third person narrative with thoughts from every character detailed at one point of time or the other. Fast paced, sufficiently detailed and there is an great understanding of the women in the empire, their role to play and how they can influence politics without ever removing their veils.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as I said, my first in this genre, and I think I shall be picking up one soon again.

Image Source: http://www.womensweb.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/shadowprincess.jpg

February 14, 2012

I want ...

This is something which my mind keeps telling me many a times but more often than not, I never ever do anything about these wants. If I go on to think of all those things which I would have wanted and immediately got, I think I would have a real truck load of stuff which I can call my own. But, the truth is, I just have many things which were given to me, or the stuff which I have contemplated over months and then decided to get something which is slightly a different variant, as that was cheaper. So, you do get the drift, I find it very difficult to buy anything as I feel that the money can always be put into better use. And this is why I totally love it when people gift me things on and off. There are always a great list of things which I want, and I know that I would never ever go ahead and get these things how much ever I want it.

The reason behind not getting these things which I want is not necessarily the monetary aspect alone, but many a times I do convince myself that I do not need the item in question. And then some other time, this cycle of wanting and convincing again repeats. After many such cycles, which might pan over months is when I actually do get something, and that too the lesser variant of my want. And if this item to be bought has someone else's approval also involved, then it is bound to only take on a longer course!

Another thing which I have realized over the years is that everyone loves to receive a gift which usually is a luxury item and of not of dire need. If it was of true need, I am sure we would have realized that and got the item. So, something which I am going to do from now on is, I shall be gifting things which I know someone might not necessarily buy themselves, simple because they do not see the item to be of need, but simply good / a joy to have. Another something which I have noticed is that when its an item of need, there are many specifications which are associated with such stuff and then buying such an item as a gift requires a good skill and I for one have experienced the complete if not over and above lack of this particular skill. I do hope that I shall have better luck when it comes to the luxury segment!

Image Source: http://littlegreenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/i-want.jpg

February 8, 2012

Mushroom Masala

I have been forever trying to make a Mushroom masala which does some justice to the restaurant types. I have done some experimenting but nothing with rave results.

So, I chanced upon this recipe and thought why not... I should give this yet another try. And this time it came out perfectly.

I did make some small changes though. Nothing drastic, just something more suited to my household.

Instead of adding the green chillies as full and not eating it, but just throwing it away, I decided to saute it along with the onions-tomato mix and then proceed to grind the same.  I really like dishes where I do not have to take out anything.. hence the change.

Next, I also did not add the curry powder, I thought that might just make it too aromatic and the mushrooms might be lost in it. So, I just completely skipped it.

Anyhow, I liked the way it turned out, and here it is for inspection.

Mushroom Masala

And, here is the recipe, in case you are too lazy to hop over!

To Serve 4, you need;

A 200 gms pack of button mushrooms
2 Green chillies- slit lengthwise
1 tbsp oil
Fresh coriander leaves-to garnish
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt- to taste

To sauté and grind to a paste

3 medium,sliced thin or minced-big onions
2 tbsps oil
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1-2 tomatoes- cut into 8 pcs each


  • Slice onions and mushrooms separately.
  • Heat the 2 tbsp oil and sauté onions until golden brown in colour.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and the cut tomatoes. Sauté well till the raw smell disappears and the tomatoes turn pulpy.
  • Cool and grind this into a smooth paste adding very little water if needed. Keep aside.
  • Heat the 1 tbsp oil mentioned formerly. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry till tender. Add green chilles, chilly powder, turmeric, pepper powder, garam masala and salt in that order. Do not burn the powders, just see to it they get heated up well and let not change their colours. 
  • Go to the next step immediately!
  • Add the ground paste and mix well adding a little water. Mushrooms let out water while cooking too.Simmer till mushrooms are cooked and the gravy reaches the right consistency.
  • Serve hot garnished with minced coriander leaves and fresh cream if you prefer.Mushroom masala goes best with any variety of Indian roti or Pulao.

February 2, 2012

The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral

The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral is the book for one looking to have a laugh, in fact many many laughs and also to see life through the eyes of a multitasking, sharp social woman on the look out for some gossip in the city of Mumbai, and by the end of it all she becomes reluctant to play sleuthing though it does look like a very promising career option.

What is is about?

Kay Mehra has a fast paced life with shopping trips, jogging at insane morning hours, cooks and maids at each others throats, TV actors and society friends along with a spouse and kid. When murders hit the otherwise normal day routine, playing detective seems to be the best new addition to the task list for the day. Through the book one wonders, with so close associations with two murders, does Kay have more in relation with the murders than what is seen. Or maybe she is just at the right places at the right time. With very important social events to attend and celebrities to meet, like any woman, wardrobe tends to let one down. Her son is also lovely, who makes small but hilarious contributions to his mom's dressing up parade.

Why I liked it?

I enjoyed the book for many reasons. For one, I loved the cover, a stiletto does have a very powerful attractive power, especially on book covers! Once you open the book and start on it, the story builds, characters start to actually talk, and in a way I could imagine people around me in a similar character build. It is a book with many characters who even you might come across in your day. As for the story, the smaller details worked wonders where as the plot moved interspersed with these small anecdotes which lightens matters, which is otherwise a grim subject, MURDER.