Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lessons from the epic (Book Review: Shattered Dreams - Shubha Vilas)






Book Title: Shattered Dreams 
(Ramayana - The Game of Life - Book 2)

Author: Shubha Vilas
Genre: Religion & Philosophy / Self Help
Published by: Jaico Books
No. of pages: 387
Cover price: Rs. 350








Shattered Dreams, Book 2 of Shubha Vilas' Ramayana - The Game of Life begins with Dasaratha's restlessness. It is the night before the decision of Rama's coronation as the next king of Ayodhya is to be taken.
It journeys through Keikeyi's selfish and cruel demands, to Rama's initial days in forest and Bharat's reaction to these events.

Most of what I knew of Ramayana (before reading Shattered Dreams) was from Ramanand Sagar's TV version of it. Many a Sunday morning of my childhood was spent watching Arun Govil and Deepika as Rama and Sita, respectively.
I have no knowledge of and thus, no opinion on the different versions of the epic. What I am writing about here is 'Shattered Dreams' as a book.

Reading 'Shattered Dreams' is like watching a well-written play. Each emotion, each event is captured engagingly.

Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama, is fighting the 'common' human insecurities and emotions.

The author of 'Shattered Dreams', Shubha Vilas makes the story of Ramayana relevant for our days too. After all, times change, eras pass, human emotions remain the same.

"Having fun at the expense of another is like buying misery with your post-dated check that is cashed at some unpredictable time, when your balance is zero."

"Praise is the temperature at which any human melts. It is the garment that warms a cold body. It is a password to log into the software of any heart."

The bountiful footnotes in 'Shattered Dreams' are at times simple, yet profound insights into what we can learn from Ramayana and how it can be adapted into our everyday life.
Each footnote is an intense quote in itself. Each footnote is obviously in context of the events of Ramayana and is thus well-explained.

"If service is like a flower and genuine service attitude is like fragrance, then gratitude is like a bee that hovers over it. Relationships thrive when genuine service is acknowledged by active gratitude."

That is why 'Shattered Dreams' is a perfect self-help book too.
This is also the reason that a single reading can't do justice to this rendition of the epic. It deserves to be read / referred to, just as any good self-help book.

The story of Ramayana is not an unfamiliar one. Even for a reader who knows nothing of it, 'Shattered Dreams' is a great way to be introduced to the world of Rama and Sita.

Simple language, vivid descriptions, emotional narrative, thorough story-telling and practical explanations are some of the reasons why I am happy I read 'Shattered Dreams', although it is not a genre I usually read.

'Shattered Dreams' gives the back stories to all that happens. Obviously nothing is as simple as general society's viewpoint would perceive it to be.
There are past indiscretions and mistakes to be paid for. There are past benevolences to be rewarded for. Both these weave the complex web of life.
'Shattered Dreams' simplifies the many secondary stories of Ramayana, which are necessary if one wants to understand reasons for what happens through the course of the life of Rama.

I found out a lot more about this period of Ramayana than I did before. Either it was not part of the TV version, or my young eyes didn't understand the intricacies and depth of it.
It also included the story of Ravana, of what he was, before the path of his life crosses with that of Rama.
Was Ravana all bad? I have read/heard of accounts that claim that Ravana was a learned scholar. This book clarifies that he was always proud, cruel and a mercenary.

'Shattered Dreams' is not an easy, casual read.
Marriage, family, siblings, anger, arrogance, pride - 'Shattered Dreams' has lessons in all these and more. Actually, Ramayana has messages in these varied subjects, but Shubha Vilas' version of the epic explains each incident in terms that doesn't let the reader miss out on the implied perceptions.
Just reading the footnotes of 'Shattered Dreams' is a joy.

"The prominent rasa or mellow in the Ramayana is karuna rasa, which means crying in compassion for others. The unique feature in this epic is that no one  cries for himself or herself, everyone cries for the suffering or inconvenience of others."

(Text in italics are quotes from the book.)


This review is a part of the biggest http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank"> Book Review Program
for http://www.blogadda.com" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

© Nimi Arora


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Pampered and Radiant...


Pamper Some More (Image Source)
Dusk has come
Moon is winking
Time has come
For slumber now

My little darling
Is charmingly active
The effort starts
To put him to sleep

Summer Days
Call for a bath
Winter ones
Just a change of clothes

Before putting on
Soft, comfy night clothes
It is important to

To keep him
Dry and comfortable
Through the long night
As I said, dress him right

I have been advised
By quite a few
That diapers may not
Be the right choice though

I know from experience
Being mother of two
Diapers help them sleep well
And be healthy too

Sleeping for him
Is not just rest
To explore some more

My sound sleep
Thanks to his
Is just a bonus, I say
With a smiling face

Now that he’s dressed
The way he should be
For a night of dreams -
Restful and beautiful

We spend some time-
My husband and I
Having fun with him –
Our darling baby

We talk to him
We tickle him
We bounce him a little
And then some more

There’s baby talk
And giggling in the air
Life is good, I think,
With silent, grateful prayers

Fun and frolic
Tires him a little
He is ready
For a story still

I enjoy discovering
With my little one
The world of fairies
And some good demons too

I have explored with my child
 Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl
Both of which I never knew
In my young days, alas

Together the two of us
Have slayed a few dragons
Each fairy tale is a
Personal mission

Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella
Are happy today
Thanks to the fun efforts
Of my little one and I

We enjoy bagheera
And mowgli’s adventures
And growl and giggle
When Sher Khan comes

Family Fun time
A little reading too
My precious darling
Is relaxed in his bed now

A little prayer of thanks
We say now
Thanking Almighty for
The wonderful times

I hum lullabies
While patting his back
His eyes still struggle
To be open though

I smile at his effort
To be awake for more fun
It’s good to see him happy
And contented too

My arm is his pillow
That’s his way
I love letting him
Cuddle closely

Once he’s asleep
It’s not easy though
Without disturbing my angel
To pull out the arm now

That done now
The little one asleep
I still lay there
For a few minutes still

Enjoying the silence
Of happiness and smiles
What lingers on is
The delight in the air

My little one sleeps
His lashes flutter a little
He’s dreaming, I feel

The tiny lips
Curve  into a smile
I can sit here all night
Watching him rest




Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dream On... #BefikarUmarBhar

The bucket kicked
with the last breath
So much left undone
at the time of death

Time is cruel, I say,
the clock stops for none.
Your perspective’s wrong, it says,
make every second immense

Precious moments spent
doing this and that
Years gone by,
life flies past

Working always for
time to come
Future takes away
today’s moments

Is there a way out
from it all
When every waking moment
Duty calls

If life were stressfree
If I lived #BefikarUmarBhar
What all would I do
What would I prefer

Not passing the buck
to all the responsibilities
What would find place
on my bucket list

The first up would be
a meditation retreat
The peace and awakening
needed for the initial kick

Discovering self
in the tranquil environs
Praying and musing
and smiling reflections

Going back to studying
is the Number two here
A creative writing course
to brush up my words

Study some more I will
I think I would love
M.A. in Sikh Studies
from Patiala University

The time needed
to study full-time
Is only possible
When stress is none

I dream again
of #BefikarUmarBhar
It’s a beautiful dream
Second to none

Third on my list
is writing and reading
Shouldn’t it be higher on my list
I wonder, a little sheepish

I need the retreat
to let go of the stress
The studies can go along
with reading and writing

Write… a lot
every single day
Read… even more
really push the envelope

A published novel
of my own -
just an extension
of the second point

Write more and
make this dream come true
of seeing my name
printed on a book cover

Painting with confidence
finds the fourth place
The most improbable wish
for me, for sure

Can I even draw
to save my life
The answer would be no
if you ask me now

I so want to be able
to decorate a canvas
Bright colours, beautiful figures
I want it all

Landscapes from my camera
now on the canvas
Impressions of my memories
Expressed through brushes

A retreat taken
knowledge brushed up
Writing a lot, so
a book published

Reading, writing,
painting, studying…
this list is good
I still have one to go

The fifth and last
is back to respite
A haven on ocean
a world cruise

Long breaks at every stop
enjoying the world
Experiencing each place
at leisurely pace

Whole family together
On a long cruise
What can be better
for the family too

The list could be endless
But my priorities are clear
I have made place
For the top five here

Dreams are needed
only then would they come true
None of it is impossible
Dreams do come true

There's more to life
than doing your job
Find ways to do escape
the same old cast

The expectation to
to the line
Extend the limits
Draw new lines

The more I say
The more I believe
Dream on, when they say
Believe some more

There are ways to be
#BefikarUmarBhar
Weave a few hopes
Wish they'll come true




Monday, 16 February 2015

Silence...

being alone
a crowd of strangers
surreal silence

striking silence
thoughts start pouring in
solitary racket




Prompt by and Shared with -
Poetry Jam - 'Silence'

Shared with -
WriteTribe ProBlogger Challenge


Friday, 6 February 2015

Haldi Kumkum

My first experience of Haldi Kumkum...

Haldi Kumkum

It was organized by 4-5 ladies from our residential complex. All the organizers were Maharashtrians, Haldi Kumkum being primarily a festival celebrated in Maharashtra (to the best of my knowledge, that is). It is a ceremony only for married females.


Haldi Kumkum

Haldi Kumkum


Haldi (Turmeric Powder) and Kumkum (Vermilion Powder) was ready in exquisite, shiny, small plates, along with Itr (Perfume) and Sweets.
Each of us got a teeka of Haldi and Kumkum on our foreheads and returned the favour too. I was actually reminded of Holi... Next was a dash of Itr on the back of right hand. Til Ladoos were served. 

Everyone was dressed in colourful, traditional clothes, mostly Saris. When I first saw everyone wearing their formal best, with jewellery and make-up, I realised the significance of this custom.
I find the Maharashtrian nose ring (Guchhedar Nath) especially graceful.

The evening ended with bhajias and gulab jamum, some Antakshari and a little impromptu dancing to Marathi folk songs.
Each of us got a return gift too.

Haldi Kumkum... Celebration of Marital Bliss.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Seconds Away from Happiness... (Book Review: 32 Seconds - Johanna K. Pitcairn)











Title : 32 Seconds
Author: Johanna K. Pitcairn







Johanna K. Pitcairn's 32 Seconds is the story of quick-tempered seventeen year old, Julie Jones.
Julie is a girl, who seems to 'have it all' at the first glance. The first impression may see her as a pampered daughter of a rich father.

'Call me stupid. I preferred "willfull"'
These are Julie's thoughts.

As 32 Seconds opens, it seems to be a story of a 'Poor rich girl'.
As the story unfolds further, it reveals itself to be the journey through the maze of past and present, as Julie comes to terms with her real-self.

As the surface is scratched on Julie's persona, what is unveiled is the actual Julie that no one seems to have known. Her insecurities, addictions and secrets have all been cloaked by the mask of comparative normalcy. Cloaked, not just for others, but at times for Julie herself too.

Julie is lead on a path of self-discovery and self-acceptance when she comes across an old woman, The Mighty Listener,

The metaphors used in the narrative of 32 Seconds are extensive, inventive and impressive. They are interesting, amusing and at times, exasperating. One thing they are not is common or boring.
I felt that in a couple of instances, the metaphors used didn't gel effortlessly with the smooth flow of the story. But they were fleeting thoughts, soon irrelevant behind the gripping storytelling of Johanna Pitcairn.

The characters are introduced in a very unusual manner. Symbolism plays a salient role in Julie's discovery of herself and her struggle with herself.

The story of Julie Jones is more relatable, because it could easily be the plight of any teenager.
'Your mental obsession is driving you further into depression and to the brink of insanity. Running away doesn't take away the pain, or your loneliness. You always feel like you don't belong anywhere...'

32 Seconds could easily have been preachy. It is not.
32 Seconds is not always entertaining, but it is interesting. Not easy to read in entirety, but one gets lost in the maze of 'Underworld'. Not a compulsive page turner, but once you begin it grows on you.

There's hope in 32 Seconds, despite the darkness. There is glowing light at the end of the tunnel.

(The text in italics are quotes from the book)


*   *   *


This Review is part of The Book Review Tour. 
I was given a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.







To the average onlooker, the city of Los Angeles represents glitz, glamour, and the celebrity lifestyle. But to seventeen-year-old Julie Jones, the city is a vast host of problems she’s longing to get away from. The latest? An unfortunate disagreement with her ex-boyfriend Mark—one that could land her in some serious hot water.

So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren’t on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.

With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?

What Julie doesn’t know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.

A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.






Available on Amazon





About the Author








Johanna K. Pitcairn has dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood--authoring her first novel at the age of nine, and countless poems, stories, and screenplays by the age of seventeen. Later, rather than pursuing a career as a director and screenwriter, she decided to go to law school, driven by her father's opinion that "writing does not pay the bills."





Ten years later, she moved to New York City, which inspired her to go back to the excitement, wonder, and constant change of being a writer. Pitcairn is a huge fan of psychological-thriller novels and movies, and delves into her hopes, fears, friends, enemies, and everything in between in her own writing.

















Contact the Author:



















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