Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review: Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition

Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition Echoes from Vrindavan: Stories of 2017 - April Edition by Sharath Komarraju
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection of stories may well have been a novel, with each story linked to the successive one. These stories are about the encounter of Krishna with Yama, Lord of death, at the moment of the former's death. They question the very godhood that we bestow upon Krishna. Does he deserve such unwavering devotion? These stories shake the very foundation of our faith.

The first of them, named "Echoes from Vrindavan", after which this collection is named. It speaks about Radha and Yashoda, after Krishna deserted them. I have always wondered what happened to them after Krishna set out for Mathura. And here they are. Radha, "browned by the Yamuna’s mud,
wrinkled by age, battered by years of milking cows and carrying pots, shrunken by the crushing weight of hope, greyed by the silence of dusk, flattened by endless longing, eaten by the monster that she had once thought was love." We come to know of Yashoda, who died with hope of Krishna's returning in heart.

The second one "Sons of War" moved me the most. This story brought tears to my eyes. I never heard about Iravan, with my limited knowledge of the epic. After reading this story only, I googled his name and read the original story about him. His story, along with those of Abhimanyu and Ghotatkacha will surely make you cry and question your long-standing faith.

The third one, "Vasudeva" provides a new perspective regarding the meaning of the term Vasudeva. The fourth one, "King's Gambit" makes Suyodhana out of Duryodhana. The last one, "Fault Lines" talks about Balarama, the forgotten hero of history.

I have been reading the short stories of Sharath Komarraju from the beginning of this year. But this collection, of all, moved me the most. I'd recommend all lovers of the mythology genre to go through this one.

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To the Sweet Sixteen

Dear Sweet Sixteen,

I really envy you these days. How innocent you are, how strong your faith is in the goodness of the human nature, how you laugh with gay abandon, how your eyes sparkle when you think about your future. My future. You wait for the coming years with a heart full of hope, of love and longing. Yes, you long for the adventures of the adulthood. When you look forward to your future, you look for the brighter side that life has to offer to you, for your heart is free from any negativity, unlike me.

Study hard girl, for you have miles to go. You will climb high through the ladder of success. Success will be a necessity in your life, for you'll have to shoulder many responsibilities in your grown-up years. So learn to be responsible and matured, for immaturity may cost you dear.

If possible, DON'T SETTLE. That's the single most advice from me to you. Though I know that when it comes to matters of heart, we are all slaves of our hearts. Heartbreaks will be inevitable in love for you, though suffering is optional. Nothing goes wrong than love gone wrong. One single mistake can change your life forever. One advice I want you to etch in your memory: You are very special, very precious, at least to me, if not to anybody else in the world. So please promise me, you'll not allow anybody to belittle you. Always feel free to choose your own happiness over and above everything.

Lastly, try to maintain that innocence of yours as long as possible. I want you to look at the world with the same wonder in your eyes for a whole lifetime. Smile today, for you may not get many reasons to smile tomorrow. It's your life and it's waiting for you with all it's sunshine and rain. Live it in your own way. Live it. Love it.

With love and all the good wishes,
Your 30-something self.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend,

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sarahah: The New Cyber Sensation

Recent news feed of my Facebook is flooded with Sarahah messages. Some are really hilarious and I actually had a good laugh reading them. Some are admissions of love from secret admirers of the recipient. At first, I was not getting anything out of these posts, as I was not familiar with the app. Then I googled about it and found that it's a new anonymous messaging app. Noticing it's popularity, I also opened downloaded the app from playstore and created an account, just for the sake of fun. Though the messages I received through this app are few in number. I may be a bit too old for this kind of frivolous activities. Whatever, after a few days, I saw some posts in Facebook relating to the dubious nature of the app, claiming the app not to be safe at all.
Now I have a few questions to you all, after reading about all the controversies relating to this app:
1. The app is originally from Saudi Arabia, even the letters Sarahah written in this app are in Arabic language. We all know that. Found out by googling that it used to exist as a website created by the Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. It had the purpose of allowing employees to post anonymous feedback to their employers. It gave a voice to those who had something to say, but never spoke up for fears that they could be fired. The app is just an application of this concept on a personal level, with friends and acquaintances anonymously giving feedback to each other.
So, whats wrong here? Is it the fact that it originated in Saudi Arabia, instead of a Western country? Facebook and Whatsapp, perhaps the most popular apps used, owe their origin to USA. Though there have been many instances of fake profiles/ hacking in FB, still we continue using them. My own FB account was hacked twice, though the issue got resolved after reporting phishing to FB.
2. The Sarahah app can access all your personal information in your phone, read in a certain FB. But then, what information have your Facebook app access to? Well, the list goes like this:
Device & app history, Identity, Calender, Contacts, Location, SMS, Photos/Media/Files, Camera, Microphone, Wi-fi connection information, Device ID & call information, Other (don't know what is included in this "other").
We give FB permission to access all these at the time of download. Give it a thought. Does an app really need all these information?
3. Uninstalling the Sarahah app does not eliminate your account created in the app, this was also mentioned in that certain FB post about Sarahah. Is it not true about any other app? How can you remove your account from an app by merely uninstalling an app?
4. Lastly, there is the most serious allegation against Sarahah, that of cyberbullying. Though the app urges users to post constructive feedback, the anonymous nature of messaging through the app makes it easier to bully someone. But wasn't there bullying in the pre-smart phone era? In the 90's, when there were no smart phones, we had landline telephones. People used to call anonymously others, without the fear of getting recognised, as there was not any way to detect from which number the call is coming. We had anonymous love-letters, before the age of anonymous Sarahah messages. This is not a new concept. Only the coming of technology has made anomymous messaging easier than ever.
So, please apply your own intelligence and common sense before coming to any conclusion.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: A Handful of Sunshine

A Handful of Sunshine A Handful of Sunshine by Vikram Bhatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I have to use one word to describe this book, then that eould be this: "Bollywood-ish". It has all the ingredients of a bollywood block-buster: a heroin who is "beautiful, petite and slender. Her long hair tumblimg carelessly over her shoulders snd back, eyes shining bright like they held a secret, and her full lips, red- with life, instead of lipstick." A hero who looks like "an angel from a Michelangelo painting". To make it more interesting, the novel also has another hero and another heroin in the side-role. The location changes from Mumbai to Switzerland, then London, and New-York in between. I can almost see the word "INTERMISSION" hovering before my eyes when the part of novel in Mumbai is over, with the break-up of the lead couple.

Anyway, nice storyline, a fast and easy read. Some quotes are really great to remember for a long time.

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Review: The Highway Man: Short Stories

The Highway Man: Short Stories The Highway Man: Short Stories by J. Alchem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all, I'd like to thank Sidra for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

"The Highway Man" is a collection of three short stories by the author. Each story has a different flavour. Each is different from the other and unique in it's own way.

The first story 'Catherine' is about a Psychiatric, who became the physician of one best-seller novelist, who writes romantic tales of love. I just loved the offbeat storyline and the final twist in the story just leaves me speechless.

The second story depicts one day's happenings in the lives of a couple who are very much in love with each other. I am sure every woman wants a husband like Jihan, who treasures his wife and can go to any length to make her happy. Every husband should take inspiration from this story.

The third one is the story from which the book's title 'The Highway Man' comes. It teaches us the secret to find happiness in a life, which can take an adverse turn at any moment. However, it gives us the mantra to be happy, no matter what curveball the life throws at us. I am sure many readers will find a renewed jest for life after reading this story.

Overall, a delectable treat for the lovers of short-stories. If you enjoy this genre, do give this book a try. You'll not be disappointed.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Our Unforgettable Friendship

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival."

Yes, these three wonderful persons add value to my survival, every day, every hour. We four share a kind of bond that's unlike every other relationship. We four- me, Priyanka, Shatarupa and Susmita. We are friends since our school days.

Priyanka is the most beautiful person among us. She is the traditional doe-eyed beauty, beautiful, slender and petite. Yet what makes her stand out is not just her beautiful appearance, but the inner beauty that she has in her.
Shatarupa is no less beautiful. From a clumsy, small town school girl, she has now grown up to be a smart, bold and beautiful lady.
Susmita is that superwoman who knows how to balance both her professional and personal lives. She is a down-to-earth, pragmatic person.

The four of us. We know each other for such a long time that we can understand even the unsaid words of each other. A deluge of memories. We sitting in the last bench of our all-girls-high-school, one of us is sharing a secret, others listening to it wide-eyed. Priyanka being the most beautiful among us, received many love-letters, which we all read together. Then there were those endless gossips. The sharing of lunch. And with all these, the high school ended.

We enrolled in different colleges. Yet, we made it a point to be in touch with each other. Though our talks became less frequent over time. We all met again at Priyanka's wedding. Priyanka went abroad with her husband soon. We all got busy with our respective lives. Me and Susmita found jobs. With time, we all got married and had kids. Our infrequent talks over phone and social media sites continued.

Finally, there came Whatsapp in the scene. It changed the whole landscape of our friendship. We now have a whatsapp group of our own, with only four members. It makes us connect more intimately. Whenever any one of us feels low, she knows that there are three persons out there who will not judge her for any of her actions, who are ready to lend a shoulder to cry on, and who will always stand by her through thick and thin. They are not her parents, not her siblings, not her in-laws, not even her partner. They are her best friends. For every other relationship may not stand the test of time, but our friendship does. Friends are God's best creations, His best gifts to humanity. And I am truly blessed to have three wonderful friends in my life.

Today, on this occasion of Friendship Day, I want to thank each three of my sweeties for whatever they have done for me. Dearies, today I want to dedicate this song to you three and our friendship:
" Yaaron dosti badi hi haseen hai,
yeh na ho to kya phir
bolo ye zindagi hai...

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend,
an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’