Book Review: 2 States


Author: Chetan Bhagat

ISBN:978-8129115300

Summary:
Welcome to 2 States, a story about Krish and Ananya who are from two different states of India, deeply in love and want to get married. Of course, their parents don’t agree. To convert their love story into a love marriage, the couple have a though battle in front of them. For it is easy to fight and rebel, but much harder to convince. Will they make it?

My review: 

I picked this up after hearing some rave reviews from my friends. It was not very gripping to me. I read it in parts and after a point, I wanted it to just get over. It was predictable after a point. Why was Krish’s father shown as such a villain? And what made him so? His character seemed totally out of depth with no explanation whatsoever to his psyche. Also, why was the Punjabi clan made out like a bunch of idiots except Krish? Were the two protagonists exception to the qualities demonstrated by their respective families?

It was entertaining in parts but at times too far-fetched, specially when Krish proposes the entire family with the four rings. It was genuinely funny at times but the characters sounded very dramatic and sometimes immature.

Maybe I was expecting a lot more from Chetan Bhagat.

My rating: 2.5/5

Aberfoyle and The Lake of Menteith


So we decided to go to Loch Lomond last weekend. However, due to our lack of knowledge of the roads, inexperience of driving in a foreign country and incorrect inputs into the GPS system, we reached Aberfoyle. If only had we relied on Googlebaba before venturing on our virgin drive in Scotland.   

 Above was the route that we finally took. But it wasn’t all that easy. Let me begin at the beginning. We rented a seven seater car with a child seat from Enterprise Cars a day before. We needed to pick our car from the Airport. The beauty of this facility is that you avoid driving through the city and can take an out and out route directly from the airport to the destined location.   

We reached the airport by 10:30 am. Among the 6 of us, we had 4 four bags for a day’s journey. Packed with snacks, cold drinks, Shantanu’s 4 meals, plates and cups and Shantanu’s pram.    

We got our car at around 11 am. From there started our predicament. We had to get the child seat changed since it was small for Shantanu. Then we asked for help and around 45 minutes later we finally fixed it onto the seat. Meanwhile hubby’s colleague tried to feed the route and destination into the GPS system.   

At 11:45 am we collectively let out a sigh of relief on fixing the car seat and working out the GPS system. We were all set to go only to realise, to our dismay, that hubby couldn’t put the car into reverse to take it out of the parking lot. After trying for 5 minutes, we asked the security. He told us that we had to lift the gear and then shift it into position to put it in reverse. Now then, did I imagine him giving us a funny look saying, “desi log, can’t fix the child seat, can’t put the reverse gear and are thinking of driving all the way to Loch Lomond, ha ha ha!”    

Eventually, we did start our journey at 12:05 pm chanting “Ganpati bappa morya”. I even imagined Ganpati bappa smirking. As you can imagine, all of us were talking non-stop, laughing at ourselves and discussing our stupidity that we couldn’t hear the GPS instructions. We missed out on our exists, took wrong turns, drove into a wrong lane once, got honked on. Had I been in hubby’s place, I would have snapped and barked out at everyone to stop talking. But the wonderful hubby, bore our irritating talks and drove on. The only sane person apart from hubby was Shantanu, who sat quietly in his seat. I had feared whether he would sit as he has never sat in one. But he took an instant liking to it and looked smug and happy. Maybe he was happy that he had finally got his seat.   

After around an hour of wrong turns, we found ourselves on the correct lanes, right roads and right turns. And then we started enjoying the sights around us. Soon we were enjoying the smooth roads, the disciplined driving, minimum to no overtaking, no honking, and finally finally no traffic. The scenary around was incredible. The white and grey clouds casted beautiful shadows on the mountains, the lush green farms were scattered with big fat sheeps, DDLJ like cows and hay rolls.    

   

 

The sheep were on a balanced diet and we were not allowed to feed them anything apart from the food purchased from their shops.

 

The clouds were just breathtaking. I have never seen more stunning clouds ever.  

   

Trail by the river

 

     

 

 We reached Aberfoyle  at around 2 pm. Aberfoyle is situated at the base of Craigmore. It is a base point from where you can visit the different lochs and trossachs. It is also a part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are also known as “Scotland in miniature” because of its stunning scenary. You can take many foot trails from here or visit the different lochs around the place. After a quick lunch, we took a small trail by the river. Then we decided but could never reach Loch Lomond. Instead we went to the Lake of Menteith . Shantanu went crazy on seeing the water and wanted to run right into it.  

The Lake of Menteith

 

 By the time we got comfortable with the GPS and the roads, it was time to return. This time it was no to difficult, we only had rains.

The Edinburgh Tattoo


From Wikipedia:

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of Military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands and display teams in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. The event takes place annually throughout August, as part of the wider Edinburgh Festival (a collective name for many independent festivals and events in Edinburgh in August).

The word “Tattoo” is derived from “Doe den tap toe”, or just “tap toe” (“toe” is pronounced “too”), the Dutch for “Last orders”. Translated literally, it means: “put the tap to”, or “close or turn off the tap”. The term “Tap-toe” was first encountered by the British Army when stationed in Flanders during the War of the Austrian Succession.

The British adopted the practice and it became a signal, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums or Pipes and Drums each night to tavern owners to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour. With the establishment of modern barracks and full Military bands later in the 18th century, the term Tattoo was used to describe not only the last duty call of the day, but also a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by Military musicians.

Although the first Tattoo in Edinburgh, entitled “Something About a Soldier”, took place at the Ross Bandstand at Princes Street Gardens in 1949, the first official Edinburgh Military Tattoo began in 1950 with just eight items in the programme. It drew some 6000 spectators seated in simple bench and scaffold structures around the north, south and east sides of the Edinburgh Castle esplanade. In 1952, the capacity of the stands was increased to accommodate a nightly audience of 7700, allowing 160,000 to watch live performances each year.

In the glowering twilight, Edinburgh Castle slumbers, resting, waiting for nightfall and for the footlights that will transform it into a dazzling stage set for the world’s most spectacular show. Down Castlehill, along the Lawnmarket, around the cathedral church of St Giles, through the closes of the Royal Mile and the narrow streets whose setts ring with history, people gather in the dusk of a late summer evening.

Climbing the final rise towards the Castle Esplanade, walking companionably together, eager old hands who come every year but never lose the thrill of a Tattoo ahead, and new folk, many on holiday from other proud nations a world away (like us), who are about to witness the show they will never forget…

We settle into our seats, the fresh clear air exhilarating, the sky above the Castle deepening first to heather-colours of lilac and purple before darkness slips down and the floodlit castle draws all eyes.

The commentator – the Voice of the Castle – brings the audience together, cheering individually for their countries but united in an international fraternity.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the world’s most spectacular shows. The breathtaking performances of the Massed Pipes and Drums, the poignant Lone Piper, the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the stunning spectacle of international music, ceremony, entertainment and theatre.

2010 marked the Diamond Jubilee Year of Edinburgh’s celebrated Royal Military Tattoo which takes place over the period 6-28 August with performances on Monday to Friday at 9.00pm and on Saturday at 7.30pm and 10.30pm. We were lucky to be part of the audience this year and luckier since the BBC was shooting it all the night we attended.

A hush falls and darkness deepens, the great oak gates of the Castle sweep open and the swell of the pipes and drums cracks through the night sky. As the massed bands march out in their hundreds across the drawbridge, flanked by effigies of William Wallace and Robert The Bruce, emotions run high: this matchless spectacle unfailingly enthrals, symbolising the Scotland that everyone holds dear in their heart.

Against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the world’s most spectacular Tattoo hosts a celebration of talent from four continents including pipers, gymnasts, singers, dancers and an amazing motorcycle display team. The emphasis is again very much on music with the event that delights an international crowd with its rich variety.

The exciting programme included probably its two most popular items – the music of the Massed Pipes and Drums and that of the Massed Military Bands. Among the many bands that took part were those of South African Irish Regiment along with the South Australian Pipes and Drums and the prestigious Military Band of the Coldstream Guards.

The Citadel Band from Charleston, South Carolina, United States presented an inspiring musical display while the Imps Motorcycle Display Team from London’s Docklands – celebrating their 40th anniversary – displayed a thrilling daredevil of motorcycle prowess performed at breathtaking speed. Antipodean attractions were also on parade in the form of a military contingent from New Zealand, an Army band renowned for their talent, diversity and humour. During the parade, they broke out into a dance which very much relaxed the audience.

And above all else the awesome presence of the Castle, great flaring torches lighting its venerable walls and creating mysterious shadow plays on the honey coloured stone.

Here’s the link to the event’s highlights.

From its early days, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favourite. Performers from over 40 countries have presented here, and around 35 per cent of the 217,000 audience each year are from overseas. In addition, the Tattoo has been televised in 30 countries. An annual television audience of 100 million watches the coverage worldwide. The international flavour of the Tattoo has been deliberately developed as a key element in its capacity to entertain a huge, cosmopolitan audience. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is regarded as the most popular event in Edinburgh’s summer festival.

The Tattoo Fact File

Book Review: I Am the Messenger


Author: Markus Zusak

ISBN: 978-0375836671

Meet Ed Kennedy–underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
Winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love.

The story is about Ed Kennedy, a 19-year-old cab driver who lives alone with a strange old dog Dorman – a true canine coffee addict! Ed does not have much ambition to do anything else with his life, besides driving taxi and playing cards with his three friends. His mother despises him, and after his father died a year before – he does not have any goal. This is until he accidentally prevents a bank robbery from happening after which, his life takes an unexpected turn. He starts receiving playing cards (Aces) delivered to him with series of instructions. The story goes on to explore how and what Ed does to do the job he’s chosen to accomplish.

To the very end of the story Ed doesn’t understand the meaning or the purpose of the messages he was chosen to deliver. But the whole process marks a first serious awakening in his life. As the story evolves, he goes out of simplicity and flat commonness and his life gets a meaning – he does things that truly make difference.

Who sends those cards to Ed?

Why is Ed the chosen one?

Is Ed’s life going yo change for better or worse?

The novel is gripping, to say the least. The writing style is flawless and there are just so many memorable quotes in here. One of my favourite is: People die of broken hearts. They have heart attacks. And it’s the heart that hurts the most when things go wrong and fall apart.

The story takes the reader through life of an ordinary person, Ed, and shows how a small gesture can make a big difference. I couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it – I couldn’t wait to know more, I wanted to see what happens next. There were parts where I wanted to applaud Ed for what he does; there were parts where I couldn’t help but smile; and then there were parts when I was dissatisfied because I felt they were not strong enough. But the positivity of the book outdid the negativity and overall, I would highly recommend it – it’s a light and pleasant read for sure.

My rating: 3/5.

Baby hates , mommy dreads it :)


Just back from a marathon haircutting session for Shantanu. He started crying the moment he was put on the chair. No amount of entertainment could console him. My dad who tried to divert his attention displaced all the stuff in the saloon under the pretext of amusing him.

At one point, the barber asked me to take him out for a stroll and then bring him back meanwhile he could continue with the other customers. Shantanu was happy once we were out of the saloon but started crying once we stepped inside again. We realised there was no point in continuing like this. We left. Now Shantanu’s hair is nicely cut on the left side of his hair. His right side has a slightly bigger mass of hair.

In all this crying the barber managed to cut only his left side lock. The right one resembles the likes of Amitabh Bachchan in his angry young man days. Think that!

The lunch and the genes and then some…


So it all started with a request from hubby for making lamb curry at 8 in the evening on one weekend. Then another weekend I made lamb liver and lamb curry. And today I made lamb curry, lamb liver and fish fry. All three dishes. At one time. It goes without saying that this is improving my culinary skills but at the same time my hubby’s demands for dishes is increasing. Currently I am enjoying my new found confidence in cooking but I sincerely hope that it doesn’t turn into certain conversations. But then I think some things are meant to be. They Patterns repeat. Only the people change. 

Right now, am sitting with a full stomach, still heavy with lunch and contemplating whether to have dinner or to skip it. There’s something about a lazy late lunch on Sunday. The obvious joy of Sunday, being with the family, the scrumptious meal and then the much desired afternoon nap. This is the magical time. However, as the evening approaches, the monday blues set in. I think Sunday evenings are more agonising that Monday itself. Just like the  anticipation of a pleasant episode is much more gratifying than the actual event.

The little devil


Shantanu has become quite mischievous in the past couple of days.
 
Firstly, he has started walking backwards. Neither I nor hubby ever does that, so I wonder where he picked this up from.  And he has every chance of running into doors or chairs. So we have to be over careful with him. Secondly, he sometimes walks with his eyes closed. Now I don’t really know what to do about that.
 
He has started throwing tantrums at the drop of a hat. If I ask him to not open the washing machine door, or not to put something in his mouth (usually paper bits, wires, bottles, shoes, anything disgusting), he gives a shrill cry and shouts until we oblige. Then if I don’t pick him up (like when am cooking or doing some work) he lies down on the floor and starts crying.
 
He turns very cowardly at times. The piano, thanks to the constant banging and beatings that he has received at Shantanu’s hands, makes a weird harsh horn like sound sometimes. He runs scared like a headless chicken when this happens and starts crying. Almost immediately after I put on some song, he starts to dance, crying at the same time.
 
He can dance to almost any tune. The other day, my mom was sweeping the kitchen floor. He thought she was dancing. He started dancing then with his knees bent, mimicking her actions. Funny, that.
 
Though he still cannot talk, his actions and facial expressions say a lot. “uhh uhh” is the only word in his vocabulary that I need to understand depending on the tone and modulation.
 
So I can safely say that he is growing into just another normal child. 🙂

Meter Jam – Say no to autos on 12th August


Have you been refused by autos and taxis? Have you boiled with anger yet felt helpless to do anything about it?

Now you can do something about this.

Join the Meter Jam campaign. Say no to Autos and taxis on 12th August.

The motivation comes from lakhs of Mumbaikars, harassed, denied, bullied every single day.

Go here to know more.

Goodbye


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 13; the thirteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

She wiped her eyes and stared at the stick. Two lines. It was positive. She knew her parents wouldn’t understand. Her boyfriend had broken up with her yesterday. Her graduation exams were coming up next week.

She craddled the bottle of sleeping pills in her hands.

“Goodbye”, she whispered as tears trickled down her cheeks.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.