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Sunday, May 25, 2008

The world is enlightened.. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Beer? Maybe, maybe not!

For those of you who thought beer is a very healthy drink , here's something that might put you on second thoughts.

According to this study, beer is known to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. Obviously, it does indicate that the risk is higher for heavy drinkers, so I am assuming that a mug of beer once a while should still be safe.... but who knows?!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

This book, from the author of 'Interpreter of Maladies' and 'The Namesake' is one of the nicest short story collections that I've read so far. It's hard to pick which one is better, 'Interpreter of Maladies' or 'Unaccustomed Earth', both of which are collection of short stories, but I still favour this one a little more.

Lahiri is one of the finest Indian authors that I've come across. She has something new to offer in every book and every story of her's. Her style of writing is very unique (with her attention to detail she creates a lasting image in your mind), thought provoking and gripping; none of her stories have a perfect ending, it leaves you thinking at the end... always, and that's what brings it close to reality coz more often than not, you dont see a 'perfect end' to situations in life.

Unaccustomed Earth, is again a set of 8 short stories intrically woven with their themes...Bengali families who have migrated to US of A. That's the author's focus in all her books, but each story has something different to offer.... Be it a daughter's dilemma whether to give shelter to her father after her mother passed away, discovering some secrets during the time he comes to visit her; or a married woman falling in love with a stranger who comes to stay with them and becomes a family friend, only to be discovered by her daugther much later in life; or a sister trying to help her alcohol addicted brother who is rejected by his family and the society but at the end starts doing it herself, Lahiri has mastered the intricacies of human emotions and put it across in the most simple and subtle way.

The first part is a set of 5 distinct stories and the second part, is a set of 3 intertwined stories forming a trilogy - where two people (Hema and Kaushik) meet at different stages in their lives - during childhood, in their teenage and later in their 30's. The ending is very touching, though somewhat contrived.

The only criticism would be that she tends to get a little melodramatic sometimes in her narrations and becoz of the only central theme she uses - NRI bengali families who are academic over-achievers (everyone is a PhD), economically prosperious and always in mixed marriages, the stories sometimes seem to lack variations.

Nevertheless, I still rate this book 4.5/5 and highly recommend it. It is well worth the time...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Oye! Amritsar...

This restaurant on church street(located above Ruby Tuesday), is something that I'd heard of a lot and been recommended even more.... I read loads of reviews about it before going there for lunch today, and that set the expectations high...and I surely was not disappointed. A very small place, with hardly 10-12 tables and no hi-fi ambience(a mock roof-top dhaba), all this place has to offer is its awesome authentic punjabi food which is it's USP (unique selling point). The very first thing that I can think about, when I think of this restaurant is it's lassi, served in a monstrously huge glass.... very tasty.. and it can almost compensate for a full course lunch, coz I had to almost eat the lassi rather than drink it :)

(Photo courtesy: google search)
The food was extremely good,a treat to your taste defnitely leaves u craving for more! They have a wide variety on the menu but I would recommend the lunch buffet coz it reduces the pain of ordering and you get to taste a lot of their good stuff. The service was very good and fast even though the place was very crowded, but if you go without reservations, then you have to bear with the agony of a long wait.

The buffet was 175Rs and with a-la-carte, a meal per person will be about 250Rs (without drinks). The price is slightly towards the higher side but considering that they are offering a cuisine which is not so common (and authentic ofcourse!) in b'lore, it doesnt seem expensive and it's definitely worth it!! Something you shouldn't miss for sure...

You can read a really good review about this place on Bangalore Metblogs (with nice pictures)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri...

It's strange that I am currently reading 3 books simultaneously, somehow ended up starting all 3 and it's all going parallel will take time to finish and post all the reviews! One of it is Jhumpa Lahiri's latest - Unaccustomed Earth - a collection of short stories. I have finished half the book, and it's so amazing that I love her writings all the more now.. While browsing about the book and the author, I came across this exclusive author's interview, which is quite nice (Link at the end..)

It's interesting to note that she came up with some of the stories in this new collection nearly a decade before.... authored 'The Namesake' in between and now actually completing those old stories!! 'Hema and Kaushik' is a trilogy in this new short stories collection, which she is referring to below...

Lahiri: It began in a staggered way, with Kaushik and Hema. The first of the stories in that series, "Once in a Lifetime," is a story from about ten years ago that I started and never finished. The characters had those names, though.
They were characters that first entered my mind about a decade ago. I thought about them, and I had a very vague sense of them and their world, their situations and their families. The earliest incarnation was the idea of the story of their two sets of parents who are at once very close and very different.
I was trying to write about Kaushik's family moving back to India and then moving back yet again, and staying with Hema's family. That was always the kernel, this strange couple of months in both their lives, in which they're all crammed into one household.
That was the idea, but at the time I never knew why exactly the family had come back; I hadn't yet figured it out. Those are the earliest characters in the book, and eventually, many years later, I returned to that draft (if you could call it that — it was just a few pages) and was able to work on it again and move forward and finish the story.
That's how it began technically, I suppose. Then I wrote The Namesake, in between, and then started up with some of the other stories. "Hell-Heaven" I had first started while I was writing The Namesake. Sometimes a story idea comes to me and I loosely write it or half-write it or quarter-write it. So when I was finished with The Namesake, I turned to these other ideas. I went back to Hema and Kaushik, and went back to "Hell-Heaven." The other stories just followed, one by one. "

And for all those people who think that the final-product of writing is usually those initial-thoughts that come into mind, then here's something to contradict that....

Jill: How much do you revise, generally?
Lahiri: That's really all I do. It's all a process for me of continued revision. I worked on most of the stories in this book for several years. When I finished some, and I published some, along the way, then I considered them done, but I still worked on them for a considerable length of time, and the ones I didn't publish, I continued to work on. Most of these stories were simmering for two to three years, minimum.

Read the full interview here

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Here is the link to the author's offical website. He has a blog in there too, pretty interesting.

After reading 'The Kite Runner', there was no way I would have missed out on this one. A couple of reviews that I had read initially indicated that this book is very similar to the the previous one and has nothing different to offer. That put me off a bit, but am glad I still picked it up, coz it was amazing in its own way!

Without writing much about the plot, I would like to say that Khaled Hosseini really does know how to make your heart ache!! The last 2 days when I read this book during bedtime, I found it hard to sleep...some of the things described in the book really haunted me, day and night. If the very description of Taliban and life in Afghanistan could make me go thru this, I wonder how people in there would have endured it all... I have foregone hours of sleep, just so that I get to read one more chapter, and that never ends... hard to keep the book down.

The author's style of writing is something that I enjoyed - very clear, simple and effective. The way he has described the emotions of the two women in the story, a peek behind the burqa, is really commedable.....In one of the lines he writes about friendship, which I felt was nicely expressed - "Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly"

I will definitely remember this as one of 2007's best novels and would look forward to reading more of his books..

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Update on Orbis Terrarum Challenge...

'Orbis Terrarum' in latin means 'the whole world' or 'globe of the world'.. I've just finished 2 books as per my list and on to the third one now.. It's interesting to note how you can travel to different parts of the world and learn about various countries and its cultures by reading books...I 'm loving it!!

Got this idea of showing the world map from Ramya's blog... but managed to get a picture of my own though ;-) The map just made me realize how limited my reading has been and how vast the world is! :)
Updated list:
1. Sister of my heart- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (India)
2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan)
3. A thousand splendid suns - Khalid Hosseini (Afghanistan)
4. Kafka on the shore - Haruki Murakami ( Japan)
5. Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi (Iran)
6. To kill a mocking bird - Harper Lee (USA)
7. The Conservationist- Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
8. One hundred years of solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia)
9. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (Australia)