Monday, March 24, 2014

Kancheepuram (Kanchi)

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We are actually travelling freaks but due to various reasons we're confined to home since long time..Moreover after coming to Chennai we haven't visited much places around here..So this weekend we planned to visit Kanchi..Kancheepuram popularly known as Kanchi is one of the  nearest places to Chennai,just 71 km and easily reached by car..Due to hot summer season we started early at 6 am and reached there with in 1 and half hrs.Kanchi is known as the city of thousand temples..There are two parts named as Vishnu Kanchi and Siva Kanchi..
We visited Kamakshi Amman temple,Varadaraja Perumal temple,Ekambareswara temple and Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam..Here are few pics..

Wonderful pillars inside Ekambareswarar temple..
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Temple elephants inside Kamakshi Amman Koil.. 

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Below is Varadaraja Perumal Temple.One more significant thing in Varadaraja Perumal Temple is the sculptures of two lizards carved on the ceiling,One is a Golden lizard and other is a Silver lizard along with the sculptures of the Sun and the Moon..Here,paintings on the walls of temple were completely lost their charm..
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Below is the Kampai Tirtha,temple tank of Ekabareswarar temple.
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The sacred tree which fulfills wishes..
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Ekambareswarar temple
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 Kamakshi Amman temple..
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The entrance of Ekambareswarar temple
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The sacred mango tree in the Ekambareswarar temple in the below picture is 3,500 years old..
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Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Crowd was a bit less as we started early so easily finished visiting all the temples before noon..All the temples remain closed in between 12pm to 4pm..

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fire on the Mountain - Anita Desai

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The novel 'The Fire on the Mountain' is a constant squabble between fiction and reality of life..One of the finest novelists of India,Anitha Desai has won the prestigious Sahitya Akademy award for this book..
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The main character in the story,Nanda Kaul lives at Carignano,completely isolated and alone in the mountains of Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh)..Being fed up with her past busy life as Ex-Vice Chancellor's wife she so much longs for lonely life in peace..After fulfilling the responsibilities towards her family,she moves to Carignano after her husband's death and starts living there calmly..Her frozen heart starts melting with the undesirable visit of her great grand daughter Raka..To her amazement,Raka is so similar to her..Not any of her children were like that..On the other hand,Raka is too much in to herself  and ignores Nanda Kaul,wandering like a free bird in the mountains,enjoying nature..But Nanda Kaul strives to spend her time with her,wish to open up to her..But Raka doesn't like her great grand mother's company..She wants to explore the nature on her own..

Raka wanted only one thing-to be left alone and pursue her own secret life amongst the rocks and pines of Kasauli.If Nanda Kaul was a recluse out of vengeance for a long life of duty and obligation,her great grand daughter was a recluse by nature,by instinct.She had not arrived at this condition by a long route of rejection and sacrifice-she was born to it,simply.

Meanwhile Nanda's childhood friend Ila Das visits Carignano and Nanda feels more uncomfortable for intruding into her peaceful life..Now,the story further deals with the emotional aspects of the three different personalities who doesn't even slightly go out of their way,protecting their identities and shells in such odd company..

Fantasy and fairy tales had their place in life,she knew it so well.Why then did she tell the child the truth ? Who wanted truth ? Who could stand it ? Nobody.Not even herself. 

Why ,it's been a little bit of the past come alive.As if the past still existed here and I could simply come and visit it and have a cup of tea with it when I was tired of the present.

The author successfully presented the darker sides of life in a milder tone of tranquility..Nature lovers really enjoy this book because there are some beautiful illustrations about mountains of Kasauli..In the beginning,  this book makes you feel like,life is a wonderful journey if we choose nature as our companion..You'll fall in love with each and every line till then..Characterization and personality disorders of Ila Das also makes you smile sometimes..But slowly helplessness,vexation and bitter realities of life in those beautiful mountains take the front row and dilutes the beauty of the nature..I'm sure when you finish reading this book,your heart fill with bitterness and despair..I was spellbound by the author's narrating  style.Would love to read more books from her.I must say it is one of the best from a woman writer..Happy reading friends :-)

Saturday, February 15, 2014


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“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” ― Garth Nix, Sabriel

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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Twentieth Wife - Indu Sundaresan

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The times when the position of woman is low in the society and the birth of a daughter was considered inauspicious,her dream was to become an empress of a great empire..When she was just eight years old,she thought,'why shouldn't I marry a prince ?'..When she was born as the fourth sibling in a Persian refugees family,her father Ghias Beg abandons her because of his inability to feed the little child,however fate had brought her back to her parents..Perhaps nobody would ever thought that one day,she is going to rule a powerful empire..This is the story of the most controversial queen of Mughal dynasty,Mehrunnisa (popularly known as Nur jahan)..It is a fascinating novel about a fascinating time..The book was a historical fiction,set in the period of 16th century in the reign of Akbar..This is the first novel among the 'Taj Mahal Triology' written by Indu Sundaresan,published in 2002..Later 'The feast of Roses' and 'The Shadow Princess' were published.
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Coming to the story,Persian refugee Ghias Beg's family moves to Agra where he was appointed as Diwan in Akbar's court..Mehrunnisa (Sun among women) is a beautiful child,physically as well as in spirit,holds a special place in his father's heart..When she heard about prince Salim for the first time,during his wedding with Man Bai,his royal grandeur attracted her..She instantly fell in love with him and secretly yearns to marry him..Salim too fell in love with her when he met her for the first time in Zenana gardens..Besides,Salim was unhappy with his father for not passing him the throne,even he is mature enough to take over the duties of state..Further,Salim's power play and his impatience to wear the crown causes rift in the father-son relationship..Their terms got even bitter,when Jahangir attempts to poison his father..

Few lines from the book,
Akbar could see only the heat-broiled plains beyond the Yamuna river,dotted here and there with stunted trees.But somewhere out there,in the dust of the plains,its sandstone buildings decaying,lay the city of Fatepur Sikri.The city he had built for Salim.

On the flip side,Akbar commands Ghias to give Mehrunnisa's hand to an army man Ali-Quli (titled as Sher Afghan),which is complete mismatch for her in every manner..Despite of the age gap and all,she unwillingly agrees to marry him considering her father's reputation in to account..Also Salim fails to convince Akbar to stop this marriage..Mehrunnisa was only 17 years old when she married Ali Quli..For many years,the couple were childless and also their marriage proved to be a painful compromise for Mehrunnisa..Though she was married to Ali Quli,she keep thinking about Salim and starves for his sight even after her thirteen years of  marriage..Now,could their paths ever crossed again ? Already wedded for 19 times,Salim still wants to marry a 34 year mother of a girl child ? Is Mehrunnisa's love pure or selfish ?' The plot thickens further with so many twists and turns..

He had wanted her longer than he had wanted the throne.It was not just that she was beautiful woman.Beautiful women he could command at the snap of his fingers,the merest inclination of his head..He admired her fierce independence,her deep sense of self,her conviction about her actions.She scorned the rules,trod on them.

Everyone sensed that this marriage would be unusual..For the first time in his forty-two years,Jahangir had made his own choice,motivated by a charming pair of azure eyes and a bewitching smile,not by political strategy. 

Rather than seeing as a tale of love,I sense this novel as a story of two ambitious individuals,who were very passionate in chasing their dreams..Jahangir dreamed for power.He longed for the throne for 15 years..In a way Mehrunnisa wished the same..Her passion is to become an empress by marrying him..After Akbar's death Salim ascended to the throne with the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi and thus began his reign at the age of 38..Altogether,this is a wonderful tale of love,hate and deceit..The novel is a work of fiction although it is based on reality..The complexity of characters is well described by the author and was deeply captivating..Jahangir never married again after he was married to Mehrunnisa..This proves that his love towards her is pure to some extent..She was his 20th wife and last wife..But somehow,Mehrunnisa's notions show a little signs of selfishness in seeking this relationship..Nevertheless,taking in to account of her miserable life with a person like Ali Quli,we give a second thought while blaming her.I loved this book very much..Would love to pick few more works from this author..Happy reading friends :-)

Publisher : Harper Collins
Pages      :375
Price       :399/-

Monday, February 3, 2014

Vijayawada Book Fair - 2014 (Telugu Books)

Mother tongue is the language of the heart..Reading in mother tongue is a lovely experience and complete bliss..My Dad sent these Telugu books from Vijayawada book fair..I'm almost flying guys..:)

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Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia

Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What are you doing with your life - Jiddu Krishna Murthy

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First and foremost,My heartfelt thanks to my best buddy for gifting me such a wonderful book..:-)
I'm always flexible with books..It is OK while reading general books or fiction etc.but when the book is particularly related to spirituality or philosophy,this flexibility is causing a great deal of conflict in my mind..Because,these are entirely incompatible disciplines to the current way of living..So now the question is,Is it precise to cling to the traditional thought process ?? Or to take a complete U-turn ?

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"What are you doing with your life" bring together excerpts from Jiddu Krishna Murthy's books,and is the first anthology of its king that offers the young a systematic approach to his version of education and life..This is my 3rd book from the author..I strongly recommend,to read it once.These kind of books are only meant for reading,not for reviewing..So I'm not going write anything about it.All I can say is,this is a reading experience beyond words..

Image courtesy Google
Here I'm sharing few lines from the book,
One of our unfortunate weakness is that we want someone else to act for us and change the course of our lives.We wait for others to revolt and build anew.And we remain inactive until we are assured of the outcome.

All thinking born of knowledge is limited,partial,never free.

To understand sorrow there must be the actual experiencing of it,and not the verbal fiction of sorrow.

You can become respectable by doing what society demands-then society gives you a garland,it says what a good person you are;but merely being respectable is not being good.

We are all like that:before we give up one thing,we want to be very sure of another.

So long as we depend on another for our psychological well-being,intellectually or emotionally,that dependence must inevitably create fear from which arises sorrow. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Half a Rupee : Stories - Gulzar

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With Gulzar's photo on the cover page,do you need any other luring factor to pick up this book ?? .Being a fan of Sampooran Singh Kalra,popularly known as Gulzar,I had few expectations over this book and it came out as a promising read..His eminence as a poet/lyricist is worldly acclaimed..This book adds to his caliber as a short story writer..If we observe,there is something most significant about his movies and writings.His words,straight away make their way deep in to the heart..This book has 25 stories,a few depicting the real life experiences of some popular people like,Kuldeep Nayyar,Sahir Ludhianvi,Javed Akhtar and Bhushan Banmali etc..

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Among these stories,'Sahir and Jadu' was my favourite..It is a tale of  great friendship between two legendary poets and lyricists,Sahir Ludianvi and Javed Akhtar..The bond that held them together was quite unique..Jaadu never had good terms with his father and he makes a beeline to Sahir's,whenever he had a quarrel at home..Young Jaadu was mercurial and rebellious by nature..Not only as a friend but Sahir had raised him as a parent..Once Jaadu borrowed a hundred rupees from Sahir..But he deliberately escapes to repay that amount..But after Sahir's death,Jaadu pays hundred rupees for the taxi that carried Sahirs dead body..It might be a coincidence,but Jaadu burst in to tears saying "He did find a way to squeeze out his hundred rupees..even in his death"..It was a heart touching with the undertone of irony.

Few lines from the book about Javed Akhtar,
Jaadu was a man of honour,and since he was young,his sense of self respect was a little exaggerated.His nose was often in the air,and his attitude turned a notch higher.God alone knows what he ate,where he slept,how he managed to live during the days he was away.

Another story 'The Charioteer' is a story of a daily wage earner Maruthi,a boat cleaner..He faces scoldings and insults from his master,albeit at the end of the day all his troubles would melt away by the moment he reaches home..He feels content with his life by having a loving family of seven people..This story depicts the importance of family and good relations.

A man is forever in search of a co-traveller.

A soldier's words,
O'Ji,that's just a grandiloquent feeling.It is all about the splendour of the uniform and the charm of the army baret,and the status that it adds to a man's prestige.I don't think that men become soldiers to die and kill for the country.

When you face your fear,you become familiar with it and familiarity makes it lose its meaning,loosen its grip-fear ceases to be fear.

About Mumbai,
You want to live here in this city-don't become a turmeric.Become chilli,red hot chilli.

Few more stories like 'Over','The Rams','LoC' and 'The Stone age' focussed on Indo-Pak border issues and suffering of common people due to Kashmir conflict..Quite surprisingly,friendly terms between the soldiers of both countries is the most unexpected and unknown part of these stories.
We definitely remember Masoom movie for which Gulzar wrote the screenplay,while reading 'Gagi and Superman'..

The reader will have a close encounter with few lives on Mumbai footpaths in the two stories- 'From the footpath','Half a rupee' ..These stories mirrors the insignificant lives of people below poverty line in Mumbai..
In another story 'Orange',the author shed some light on global warming and pollution..The comparison of earth with fresh Orange was thought provocative.

'The Adjustment' is one more beautiful story which depicts the old age issues..I loved it like anything..Being unable to digest the death of his wife,Dadaji starts behaving like his late wife..When she was alive,he used to be well adjusted with her ways all his life..He could not perceive her as dead and thus starts living a double life..Also these two stories :'Dadaji' and 'Dusk' carries almost similar concept..These stories surely make us remember our elderly people back home..

This book makes you experience each and every shade of life..It's like an early morning walk in the grass..But some times you fell like you've lost in the middle of a thorn forest..While some stories bring a smile on your lips,some throw you in to the depths of despair..All in all,it is enjoyable read with a good cup of coffee..Happy reading friends..:-)

Pages :218
Publisher : Penguin group
Price :299/-

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Durgeshnandini - Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

'Durgeshnandini' is a popular Bengali novel written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.It was in my reading list since long time as the title itself fascinated me..This romantic historical fiction is the first novel by the author..Durgeshnandini literally means the daughter (nandini) of the lord of the fort (durgesh)..But the English title 'The Chieftain's daughter' is well suited in the given context.The story is a blend of  love,passion,war and vengeance..The historical background of the story is the Mughal-Pathan rivalry in the time of Akbar's ruling.

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Here are few lines from the book,
'Some people have a propensity for presenting themselves as unyielding individuals,lest they acquire a reputation for kindness;even as they deride compassion as a feminine trait,they come to the aid of other people.If they are asked why,they say it was for their own benefit..Ayesha knew only too well that Osman was such a person.'

'The sharp pain of the knife in his heart was replaced by the dull ache of despondency.It is agonizing to abandon hope;but once dejection has rooted itself,the suffering is not as acute.A blow from a weapon is similarly painful,the ache from the wound that follows is constant,it is true,but not as extreme.Jagatsingh now endured the lesser agony of hopelessness.'

The story starts in a Shiva temple with the accidental encounter between Jagatsingh and the two woman Bimala and Tilottama..Bewitched by the eminent beauty of Tilottama,the prince fall in love with her instantly.. Here Jagatsingh is the son of Akbar's general Mansingh and Tilottama is the daughter of Virendrasingh,Master of Fort Mandaran..One night maid Bimala arranges a secret meeting for the lovers in the Fort Mandaran ..Unfortunately,the same night Fort Mandaran was invaded by Pathan armies,Jagatsingh was seriously wounded and imprisoned..The master of the fort Virendrasingh was executed while the maid Bimala and Tilottama were moved to Katlu Khan's harem as his concubines..On the flipside,Katlu Khan's daughter Ayesha irresistibly drawn to the prince Jagatsingh,while she nurses him back to health..Osman Khan,general of Katlu Khan loves Ayesha,but she treats him like a brother..Now,whether Jagatsingh and Tilottama come together ? What about Ayesha's love ?? Why do Bimala wants to avenge the death of Virendrasingh ? You will find the answers of all these questions in the coming part of the story..The story moves further with so many interesting twists and turns.You must read the novel to grab the complete essence of it.

It's an engaging read.The author's writing style is very captivating.I was not bored at any point of the story..There are some wonderful illustrations about the beauty of woman..It is nearly 180 pages book,so you can easily finish it at once.The novel also adapted as a movie in 1956 with the same title,starring Pradeep Kumar,Bina Rai,Ajit & Nalini Jaywant.

Pages      :184
Publisher : Random House India
Price       :299/-

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A precious gift

This is what I call a perfect gift for the new year..I'm a great fan of Tagore and this is the most precious gift I've ever received from my hubby,in this new year :-) Just Awesome..Isn't it ??

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kanthapura - Raja Rao

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'Kanthapura' is the first major Indian novel in English..The title Kanthapura is the name of a fictional village situated in Western ghats in the valley of Himavathy river in South India where people believe,the village is guarded by goddess Kenchamma..The plot of the novel is Indian freedom movement and the book was considered as a major land mark in Indian fiction.It is the story of how the Gandhian struggle for Independence came to one tiny village in south India..The story depicts blind beliefs and traditions of people in those days.The Author Raja Rao is a well known Indian writer in English..His notable work, 'The Serpent and the rope' has won the Sahitya Academy award and he was also honoured with  Padma Bhushan  and Padma Vibhushan by the Indian government.

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Here are few lines from the book..
Karthik is a month of lights,sisters and in Kanthapura when the dusk falls,children rush to the sanctum flame and the kitchen fire,and with broom grass and fuel chips and coconut rind they peel out fire and light clay-pots and copper candelabras and glass lamps.Children light them all,so that when darkness hangs drooping down the eaves,gods may be seen passing by,blue gods,quite gods and bright-eyed gods.And as they pass by,the the dust sings back in to the earth,and night curls again through the shadows of the streets.Oh!have you seen the gods sister ?

About Sankar,the advocate
The friends got angry and called him a fanatic;but he said there must be a few fanatics to wash the wheel of law.. 

We hear this Kanthapura story in the words of old woman Achakka..Now,coming to the story,the main character,An educated Brahmin young man Murthy,who was intensely motivated by the Gandhian ideology tries to create awareness in the people about the independence by organizing Harikathas and Bhajans..Few more learned people like Ramgamma,Seenu,Patel Range Gowda,Ratna and Shankar also join him..Soon Murthy becomes active member of Congress committee,which was established to work at national as well as provincial levels to support these Satyagrahis..Murthy tries to educate the coolies of Skeffington Coffee estate and also fights against untouchability..He even goes to Pariah quarters to give them free spinning wheels to spin cloth..This causes severe wrath in higher classes of the village,and Bhatta who is one of them helps the police Bade Khan to suppress the agitation against British rule..However Murthy and company stick to their ethics of non-violence and keeps the movement going on..Finally after great violence,the police succeeded in bringing the village under their control and in the process they also put some satyagrahis in prison..

The best lines from the book in Murthy's words,
A cock does not make a morning,nor a single man a revolution,but we'll build a thousand-pillared temple,a temple more firm than any that hath yet been builded,and each one of you be ye pillars in it,and when the temple is built,stone by stone,and an by man,and the bell hung to the roof and the eagle-tower shaped and planted,we shall invoke the Mother to reside with us in dream and in life.India then will live in a temple of our making.

The plot is simple yet deeply motivating..There use to be four quarters in the village,on the basis of caste system..In those days,going against customs and traditions was not so easy for anybody..Breaking the society-made rules was a typical deal..Murthy not only sacrifices his mother Nukamma but also outcasted by Brahmins..Like Murthy,the novel gives a wide description about the greatest sacrifices made by the villagers of Kanthapura...While it was a great read, I also felt at times that the author confuses readers by repeated mentioning of names of characters in same sentences...Wish you a happy reading friends :-)