Very far away from anywhere else by Ursula K. Le Guin


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LeGuin_VFA_4I have loved all of the science fiction and fantasy books by Ursula K. Le Guin I have read so far. But when I came across this young adult book I realised I had a lot more to read from her. Very Far Away From Anywhere Else was written in 1976 and I found it  real and poignant to this date.

Owen is seventeen and smart. He knows what he wants to do with his life. But then he meets Natalie and he realizes he doesn’t know anything much at all.  (From Goodreads)

Le Guin tries to capture the uncertainty adolescence brings  with a near to tragic and almost heartbreaking truth.

Read it for beautiful conversations about music and love. Not to be missed.

The Missing 13th Floor


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You know, apartments here in Toronto don’t have 13th Floor. And I got to know it’s the same everywhere in North America. They say the number brings bad luck. And whatever we call our people superstitious for !!!


I am finally on track with my reading. I will be starting Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion today after which I plan to watch the movie. It really sounds promising.


Guest Post: Hazel Nutt ( What squirrels do trilogy)



I am happy to welcome author of The What Squirrels Do Trilogy, Hazel Nut.

Developing Imagination From An Early Age

This is a guest post by Lord and Lady Doherty – parents of “Hazel Nutt”.


Being relatively new parents (our little one is now a toddler of two), it has been a really pleasurable experience watching her progress from a little smile to becoming more and more interactive, as her imagination and creativity starts to shine through. At the moment our life’s purpose is to nurture and help her develop into the best she can be.

First of all, it is essential to keep feeding her little mind with food for thought. We do this just by talking to her constantly throughout the day about what we are doing, what things are and talking to her like she understands us. Our toddler understands so much, we really have to be careful what we say, especially if the words park, field or car feature in a sentence!

We also sing her lots of songs, which she has certain gestures for if she wants a particular song, for example: a circular motion with her hands for the “Wheels on The Bus” and touching her nose for “Little Peter Rabbit had a Fly on his Nose”. She loves buses and knows so many body parts from the Little Peter Rabbit song!

Even TV and DVDs help develop imagination. I know some people restrict or do not allow TV for toddlers or babies, but there are things that our little one has picked up and learned from watching a DVD, like how to throw and catch a ball (although we do practise this with her), learning about different animals, getting mucky and an obsession about the colour blue!

She also loves watching and laughing at the funny video clips programmes, especially when people fall down! A lot of the time the TV might be on in the background and she will play and run about. We would not let her sit in front of it for hour upon hour (she’d get bored anyway).

Reading her picture books has also been very important in this development so far. She has learned animal noises, we do the actions that the characters do in the book (like in Guess How Much I Love You), she laughs when we put on funny voices to show different characters and we find objects that we see in the books around the house, to name a few things. There are times when she was little and seemingly unresponsive to our reading efforts, that we briefly thought “is it worth it?” – YES IT IS!

Just like play is essential. When we play with Hazel, it does not matter if she goes off on a different tangent, it’s her play and imagination after all. This makes us laugh, when a pirate becomes a one legged goose being chased by a flock of flying cows. Who are we to argue!

As well as reading about imaginary things, we talk about imaginary things as well, like we tell her about fairies at the bottom of the garden and point out fairy rings, when we see circles of fungi. We talk about tree nymphs and the mini dragons that transport them everywhere. Hazel loves a good story. She inspires us and we inspire her.

It is out of this mutual inspiration that we were able to create a trilogy of picture books about squirrels. We often see squirrels in the trees and we go for lots of walks and talk about them and what funny things they could get up to when no-one is looking, so we created a series of books which share the funny antics we have come up with. They have fast become Hazels’ favourite picture books!

It’s not always just about developing a child’s imagination, as they reawaken their parent’s imagination too – so lets not let becoming mature deaden our imagination, but let our little ones re-kindle it, as Hazel has done with us. We are not going to let our imaginations go to sleep again!

About the Author:

Hazel Nutt is a baby who is nutty about nature, especially squirrels, whom she often has a good natter with. They tell her their secrets and her parents help her write them down to share with the world, as picture books.

Loving nature is really important to her and Hazel Nutt hopes to make sure that lots of other kids get nutty about nature as well.

She also likes to blog about her observations on life and teach other toddlers how to train their parents.

About the Books:

Ideal for an adult and child to read together the “What Squirrels Do” series combines imaginative rhyme with delightful illustrations. The books inspire little imaginations and instil the seeds of a lifelong love for reading and nature.

Author Website:
Book Website:


Toronto, Joseph Anton and The Wildings



I am at Hong Kong and I already love the view around me. The airport is surrounded by shady hills. And I can see some speedy boats running around me. I can imagine an awesome place beyond these hills.

I am on my way to Toronto. I am moving to Toronto for a while for work. I am planning to write more on Toronto along with books of course.

Now the giveaways. I asked a very dear blogger to choose one winner for me.

And the winner is ………. is ………….


Mail me your deets and I ll forward I to Rukun.

And next one. A twitter giveaway of The Wildings. I liked the recommendations by Yatin, @esotericphoenix and Raghav. They replied in the same order. I entered their order in and it generated no 2.

So Esoteric wins. One of my dear twitter friend and hells I don’t know your name honey. Good time to get to know each other pretty. I ll take some time to send your book but my dear daddy has promised to post.

I am gonna miss you all due to time zone but I ll make sure I am in connect.

Loads of love.

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman


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janabibisexcellentfortunes Meet Jana Bibi, a Scottish woman helping to save the small town in India she has grown to call home and the oddball characters she considers family

Janet Laird’s life changed the day she inherited her grandfather’s house in a faraway Indian hill station. Ignoring her son’s arguments to come grow old in their family castle in Scotland, she moves with her chatty parrot, Mr. Ganguly and her loyal housekeeper, Mary, to Hamara Nagar, where local merchants are philosophers, the chief of police is a tyrant, and a bagpipe-playing Gurkha keeps the wild monkeys at bay. Settling in, Jana Bibi (as she comes to be known) meets her colorful local neighbors—Feroze Ali Khan of Royal Tailors, who struggles with his business and family, V.K. Ramachandran, whose Treasure Emporium is bursting at the seams with objects of unknown provenance, and Rambir, editor of the local newspaper, who burns the midnight oil at his printing press. When word gets out that the town is in danger of being drowned by a government dam, Jana is enlisted to help put it on the map. Hoping to attract tourists with promises of good things to come, she stacks her deck of cards, readies her fine-feathered assistant—and Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is born.

I decided to read this book because of fictitious town set in India. Last I read about fictitious town set in India was R K Narayan’s Malgudi days. And I have not read much about 1960s India. So I was in for some historical and cultural ride.

Woodman creates a beautiful serene picture of Hamara Nagar with a distinct smell of the town. Yes, I loved the line when she gives a smell to the town.

Her eyes took in the great plunge of the view, the brown and green foothills and beyond them the vast plain with its broad rivers. She smelled pine and distant wood smoke in the moving air

Woodman is surely very well acquainted by Indian culture and she brings in all those unknowing beliefs Indians believe in, like our trust on Mountain People, our obsession with Palmistry and future telling, our ability to spread the rumors in our society. This was well too delightful to read.:)

You know it’s a strange feeling when you are away from a place you have lived in for long. You just don’t miss people but every small thing about that place. The noise, the crowd, the smell all look so endearing then. Like when Jana feels

She yearned to smell the cooking flavors from the bazaar, the sandalwood perfume and coconut oil, even the oddly clean smell of burning cow dung. Her ears were hungry for bedlam of languages, the sound of Urdu and Punjabi and Hindi,with English words popping up like currants in the pudding. And for the music of daily life – the call to prayer from the mosque, the clink of bells in the temple.The call of tea wallahs on the train platforms hawking their hot tea, “Chai, garam chai” in their woonderful rhythmic chant.

One touching issue is the dilemma of people over whether they should have gone to Pakistan. And Woodman touches this issue very briefly giving us a sense that this difficulty and dilemma did exist even a decade after independence.

Reading Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is like watching episodes of a series. You may not get intricate relationships, complex plots that are very likely of books based in India. But what works with this book is the warmth it evokes with its flowery language and melodious tone. With its simple plot and lovely characters, you cannot help but revel in what the story has to offer. Woodman’s writing style is simple and unpretentious.

You know Betsy Woodman is a cross between R.K Narayan and Ruskin Bond and she takes me to India I want to read more about. Hugs and Kisses to her. 🙂

Guest Review: The Bottom Line by Sonu V C



This is an exciting post for me. Couple of months back, I coaxed my boyfriend to write a review since he reads books too. He is a non-fiction reader, quite opposite to my tastes. So when Yatin sent this book, it sounded like Saurabh’s kind of book. And he agreed. 🙂

Give it up for Saurabh folks.:D

thebottomlineUnderstanding life has never been easy. Life unfolds new and different colours every now and then. Although it is not that complex but it is not that simple too.

“The Bottom Line” gives you a pause and takes you a step back from your current state so that you can visualise the broader perspectives of life and think about the very purpose of your existence.

About The Author
Sonu V C is an HR professional and is presently associated with VivaKi India, part of a French Multinational Publicis Groupe. He became one of the members of the advisory board of ASHA (Association for Social Health and Advancement), an NGO at the age of 21. He also moved on to become a certified trainer from ISTD (Indian Society for Training and Development) at a pretty young age of 25. He has conducted a number of training programmes/workshops on Team Building, Personality Development, Leadership Development and Effective Communication Skills for organisations like Ambuja Realty, Advance Group of Companies etc.

Recently, he has started Deepika Foundation, an organisation which aims at bringing light in the lives of many by working in the areas of education, health and livelihood.

And Saurabh says

Earth has witnessed rise of men of immense wisdom. Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Rousseau and their likes have roamed this planet. Their thoughts have inspired generations and have made them immortals. Bottomline will not do anything like that to Sonu VC. In fact it will fade from your memory sooner than a Ram Gopal Verma movie.

This is a wannabe philosophers imagination gone terribly wrong and for the sake of humanity I must warn the seekers of ultimate truth, there are no revelations in this book. If I must sum up my experience of braving the complete lack of sense that is this book…I would say..thank heavens I dint buy it.

I must admit that I could relate to Sonu VC as I began reading the book, and I am sure most of you will. I had the same questions about the purpose of life, the reason for my existance, the ultimate truth, that eternally haunt those of us who cant find a girl in college who would settle for their sorry selves, and then try to philosophise about love after smoking pot. About the book, divided into 8 chapters it aspires to ask serious questions, but instead ends up making a mockery of the subject. Meaningless examples and endless questions add flavour not suited to the topic. The book uses an immature language(very unbecoming of a MBA grad) which seriously put me off. And if all that wasnt enough to massacre the analytical neurons in your brain, the book is full of grammatical errors( yes..even the acknowledgement wasnt spared the humilliation). The subject has not been researched and the book screams a lack of basic reading on worldly-wise topics of birth and death, love and hatred, values and life itself.

I will not write about the content of the book, not just because I barely found any,but also because I could perform a post-mortem on each of his sentences, ask him endless questions, present him with counter arguments and then bask in the sadistic satisfaction of ruining an authors career.

I will, with all the angelic kindness in my heart,leave Sonu with an advice. There is ample written material on such topics. Sages and rishis have researched the topic much and God himself has spoken on it (in Gita). Religious scriptures, sociological writings starting from renaissance era and contemporary Indian thinkers have contributed a lot to this difficult yet fascinating field of study. I will congratulate Sonu for taking an attempt at it but perhaps a book was premature. I wish to see his writing mature and hope his future pieces are work of art. So far as my opinion of the book goes, to rate it on a scale of five stars, I will give it a black hole.

Zubaan Books



I recently discovered Zubaan Books and I am in awe of this publication’s profile and their objective is just too inspiring. And hence this post.


They are a non-profit feminist publishing house with books for ,on and/or written by women. You can check their books here

Zubaan’s objectives are: 
· To work towards increasing and expanding the body of knowledge on and by women in India in particular and in the Third World in general
· To provide a forum where women writers can debate the issues they are concerned with, and a space where they can publish and be read
· To provide assistance to women’s groups and NGOs in the basics of documentation, publishing, writing, and archiving
· To train women’s groups and NGO activists in editorial and production skills
· To hold workshops in creative writing for young girls and women
· To encourage well-known women writers to contribute at least part of their work in the form of stories, short novellas, etc for the production of post literacy materials for adults and to publish these, in collaboration with NGOs and others, in several Indian languages
· To work towards building up a culture of translating works by Indian writers (particularly women writers) within and between the Indian languages
· To ensure that women’s writings are given their rightful place inside curricula and syllabi in universities, educational institutions and schools
· To increase and expand the body of knowledge about the girl child and female children in India
· To lobby for changes, take part in campaigns, to work with government and international and other institutions for the improvement of the status of women in India

(From their website here)

I like these titles but for now I think I will be buying The Missing Queen & their forthcoming title The Fabulous Feminist.

Blueprint for Change



Blueprint for Change is an initiative by Blogadda in which you share 5 problems/concerns/worries that you face everyday and why accompanied with a blueprint on how it could be solved/changed. It could start right from your house and maybe who knows it could be the next revolution that we all dream to make India the country we all want to live happily in.

I believe change starts from you. You may not be able to contribute much but every little thing helps. In this post, I will be talking about how I feel I contribute and how can I contribute more.

1. Children of Tomorrow

Everyday I step out of my house to a very familiar sight, a rather saddening one. One I am sure most of you can relate to. And that is of children begging on the street. I can see they are hungry. They are a part of the 300 million people in India who go to bed without dinner. Funny how most of us, including me, can’t even picture 300 million hungry people.

Most of us choose not to give them money thinking it will soon be with their operators ( parents or other sinister beings ). I don’t believe in it either. I have found my way of not just leaving it at that. I carry those Rs 2/- Parle G packets with me and I give it to those children. I may not be able to do much for them but the gesture makes me satisfied that somebody gets a little to eat.

Another thing which worries us is education of these children. There are NGO like Akansha that educate street children. I want to start devoting couple of hours each week to help educate these children. A few years ago, I used to teach English to students of a Hindi Medium Government school to help them become competitive. I am hopeful that if all of us do our good deed for the day in any which way it suits us, we can realize the dream of a better future, not just for these children but for our society.

2. One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure

Frankly speaking, I find our intelligentsia’s EQ a little low when it comes to charity. We may be earning a 7-8 figure salary, but even a 3 figure donation becomes too much of a financial strain. We have a multitude of NGO around and a lot of people helping the needy with their basic needs. But they need aid to expand and to grow. It is here that our responsibility as a second tier of safety net comes into play. If we can’t be an active participant in the social sector, we sure can play a minor role being the passive contributor.

In India, despite Daan ( selfless giving ) being one of ten virtuous acts according to Hindu scriptures, it’s very difficult to squeeze some daan out of one’s pocket. That is just the way we are.

I want to bring this Charity Store concept in India where people can donates the used belongings which are in good condition and the store would sell it to people who requires it. The money generated in process would go to a charity, thus making us that passive contributor.

3. Papa don’t preach

We are very protective of our women. It is out of the fear of the uncertain danger lurking in the dark alleys that we ask them to come home before dark, not go out alone, control their online activity, avoid responding to eve teasing. And stopping at that we feel we have realised our responsibility. In actuality we have only taught them how to run away from threats and problems. And they never learn to fight such evil. No surprise, crime against women is on the rise even as we become more educated.

I believe we should strive to make fighters out of our women, quite literally. Akansha Gaute won a Bravery award after fighting off 4 miscreants who tried to loot her father, and she is only 16. I like to imaging a time when most of our girls will be given training in free hand combat from their very school days, so that they are able to defend themselves against most of the crimes that they may be subjected to. No father or brother should have to curtail a woman’s freedom of movement just to protect her.

4. What must really change

A famous joke says Politics comes from two words, ‘poly’ meaning many and ‘ticks’ meaning small blood sucking parasites. We are very quick to call our political class a bunch of thugs, corrupt to the hilt. Ironically we are quicker to blame them for any inaction in socio-political sphere. Why do we expect ‘thugs’ to straighten our society. I take a different line of thinking. What must we do to make these ‘thugs’ carry out the wishes of the masses, the true masters of the political class in a democracy.

Politicians pay heed to what happens in rural India because therein lies the real vote bank. Urban voters not being a substantial part of a vote bank don’t affect electoral outcomes and thus matter less to them. Mumbai’s 40% voter turnout immediately after 26/11 spoke of the seriousness of people who took out endless protests to bring change in the security setup. It’s no surprise that in Mumbai, much like any other city, things remain the way they always were. Gandhiji said “be the change you want to see in the world”. Let us become a vote bank that can swing political fortunes. It is then that the protests and gheraos will really make a resounding impact. Let us all proudly flaunt our voter ids the way we flaunt our hi-tech gizmos. Let the next election day be the day we take back the control of our country. Any other change that we want to see must start with this small effort to walk to the polling booth.  

5. Go Green, Ordinary People

Well a lot of us know what is global warming and how it affects us. And most of us  are aware that we need to save our resources for our coming generations. But how much do we really do.

Reduce , Reuse and Recycle are 3Rs we should live by.

Reduce our use of energy resources. Try walking, cycling,car pooling or use of public transport. Unplug chargers when you are not using them. Reduce your unnecessary use of water.

Reuse your lunch bags, containers,napkins etc. There are loads of ways you can reuse your things and save environment. Think of how you can start making small changes.

Recycling is a big step to save the environment. There are several recycling channels in India. Your raddiwaala, bhandiwaali, kabadiwaala , rag pickers etc are at your service. You just need to make an effort to separate things and use these channels. eWaste Recycle is also something that we need to think about and make an effort towards it.

So to sum it up, these are my 5 concerns and we all can make small efforts to inculcate a habit to overcome these problems. And these habits can unknowingly effortlessly be a part of your daily life.

Let me know what you all think.

This post is a part of Weekend contest at in association with Chanakya’s New Manifesto

Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine


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So @zaqijo said that he has some books I will love for my Hyderabad trip. And he was so very right. He gave me authors I had never read before. And I started with this tiny little book with thickness of about 40 pages and devoured it in barely 15 minutes. Read it. Wanted it more. Re-read it. 🙂

Adrian Tomine’s fiancée wanted to gift a souvenir to her guests attending her marriage and she insists that Adrian draw a small comic book based on their marriage. And hence this book.

He draws the effects of organizing a marriage has on a couple. Well Adrian has drawn more of effect on him. And he has taken care of everything in these 48 pages. From  invitees to music, stopping nonsense like exercising to social service post marriage and yes his socks too.

This book is cute and light-hearted. And Adrian has an eye for detail. With chuckles and broad smiles, you will love this book for sure.



At the behest of his soon-to-be wife, Adrian Tomine set out to create a wedding favor for their guests that would be funnier and more personal than the typical chocolate bars and picture frames. What started out as a simple illustrated card soon grew into a full-fledged comic book: a collection of short strips chronicling the often absurd process of getting married. A loose, cartoony departure from Tomine???s previous work, Scenes from an Impending Marriage is a sweet-natured, laugh out-loud skewering of the modern marriage process, including hiring a DJ, location scouting, trips to the salon, suit fittings, dance lessons, registering for gifts, and managing familial demands. The most personal and autobiographical work of Tomine’s career, Scenes from an Impending Marriage is a charming, delightful token of love. (from flipkart)