Book Review: Rise of Kali

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Written by: Kirti Tarang

Rise of Kali

Rise of Kali by Anand Neelakantan

The cover of the book suggests that the writer has interpreted Ved Vyas’ ‘Mahabharat’ from Duryodhan’s point of view. However, once you flip through the pages you realize that in reality it is the author’s version of ‘Mahabharat’- his mythical imagination, in which Suyodhan is the hero.

It is important to accept this fact if you want to embrace the book. Otherwise, you’ll be walking on the path of disappointment. Thankfully, this realization came to me while reading the first part of ‘Ajaya’ series.

I strongly recommend going through part one before picking ‘Rise of Kali’, that’s where characters come to life & inciting incidences take place. Kali is just about the conflict & the resolution; which is penned in such a compelling narrative style that the book becomes a ‘must read’.

HERE ARE TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU MUST READ ‘RISE OF KALI’ 

1. You don’t know this story

You may have read, watched or heard ‘Mahabharat’ but not ‘Rise of Kali’. Set on the stage of the mythological classic, Kali plays out as a fast paced thriller. It aims to create a prism through which we can see the present in the form of a diffracted light.

2. It stirs emotions

I was angry at the slanderous sketch of Pandavas. I remember, while reading the first part, I went on a broadcast spree to everyone around me, “Why to show someone as hero, one must present someone else as villain? Isn’t the fact that none is black or white, but painted in shades of grey- the most enchanting thing about Mahabharat?”

And yet, I cared for Suyodhan. I feared for him. I wanted to get inside the forests & guide Eklavya to the right path. Felt like shaking Dronacharya for being an ignorant fool despite all his knowledge. I fell in love with Karan, again.

I’ve always loved him. He has been my favorite character in the epic, since I first heard his story from my Grandfather. However, it’s for the first time that someone has invested so much in his tale. It strengthened my heart’s bond with my favorite underdog, ever. This reached to a point that I had to shut the book & keep it away. I picked up later, tried, but couldn’t read the face-off between Karan & Arjun. I just couldn’t bear to read him till death. “This is worst than reading Game of Thrones, at least there deaths are shockers. This spares me the agony of watching someone I love inching towards death & not being able to do anything.” I whined.

I can’t remember when was the last time, when I cared so much about a character. (Perhaps, Jon Snow)

3. It raises questions

Anand seems to be visiting the past to comment on the present, perhaps envisioning possibilities of a better future too. As the story unfolds, the book pokes the areas of our reasoning that we have carefully ignored.  It puts the reader in a ‘dharam sankat’, the heart wants to run through the thrilling narrative & find out ‘what happens next’, but the brain pauses to ponder over a philosophical question that the story has just raised. At times, I felt the juxtaposition of the stories of past with the events of present, a bit forced. For example, the use of Balram’s retirement as a metaphor for Gandhi’s Dandi March. But, a couple of slips here & there can be overlooked, since it’s this juxtaposition that makes this book so compelling.

4. It’s deliciously visual

The writer has done detailing with such a surgeon’s precision that I can see the characters moving around me. It’s like some sort of 4D experience. The narrative simply transports us to Dwapar Yug.

5. It inspires to read

This book may have certain flaws, but I’ll narrate you an incidence that redeems it all:

My younger brother visited me last month. He did the thing every brother does, snatch whatever the sister is holding dearly & run away. I was holding ‘Rise Of Kali’, so he snatched that.

You need to know this about my brother that he is a stereo typical jock, totally allergic to books. Our entire khandaan has tried & tried but could never inculcate the habit of recreational reading in him.

This time, just to irritate me he was fluttering the pages & he got hooked! This is alright, even Harry Potter & Chetan Bhagat has this affect. However, this was different. My brother came up to me  with such questions that it amazed me. It was as if something has unfolded a hidden recess of his soul that housed a desire for knowledge.

When he couldn’t find the answers from me, he surfed through my library & picked Gita. He wasn’t simply reading it, he was analyzing it, questioning it. We would spend hours in intellectual exercises & while leaving my city, he took away a couple of my books with him (I hate him for this).

That’s what makes this book great for me, it made a non-reader into a book-junkie.

Book Review: Mistress Of Honour

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Written by: Kirti Tarang

Mistress of Honour by Bhaavna Arora

Mistress of Honour by Bhaavna Arora

“Yaar koi Metro mein padne waali book bata de?”

This is a common question posed to me by my Delhi friends. Till now, I never had an answer to it. Perhaps, because I never understood it.

Thanks to Bhaavna Arora, I do so now. ‘Mistress of Honor’ is the perfect book to read in metro-  An easy read  for a reluctant reader, who just wants to kill  time till the destination arrives, without investing much, without expecting much. And here are the REASONS WHY:

TOP 05 REASONS THAT MAKE ‘MISTRESS OF HONOR’ AN EASY READ:

1. The first impression

Here the credit goes to the publishers, Penguin Books Ltd. The book is handy to commute with. Not too heavy, not too thick and even fits in a sling bag. Font & spacing between lines are designed to resist all the shakes of the ride.

2. Talk to me

It’s always easier to read conversations than long descriptions. The descriptions usually bore a non-committed reader, while dialogues create a sense of intimacy with the characters. I could visualize Rihanna talking in front of me, I felt that I was a part of her world.

3. Size Matters

I like how Bhaavna Arora, has managed to keep things crisp- the chapters, the scenes; always shifting the gear, keeping up the pace.

4. Pick me up, throw me down

The book has fair amount of sex. Does it grab attention? Yes. Does it make your toes curl or cheeks flush? No. So, it’s pretty much safe to read anywhere, knowing very well that it won’t make suggestive changes in your body language.

Just like the dialogues’ll never let you burst in giggles or break in tears, saving you from curious glances of fellow commuters.

It’s neither a nail biting thriller that you can’t keep the book down nor a soul touching romance that you stay up whole night pinning for the lovers to meet. So, it can be read with a sense of detachment, pick it up when you want, keep it aside when you like. It won’t linger on with you, worry for characters won’t haunt you, you can carry on with your life & at your ease, with no compulsion, return to the book. The best part is that the writer keeps reminding you about what’s going on, so even if you forget the plot & sub plots in the breaks, it keeps coming back to you.

5. It’s not a Chick lit

Many readers (particularly boys) hate to admit that they love chick-lits. Well, for them this book is a God’s gift. You can’t call it a chick-lit but it very much belongs to the genre. It has all the ingredients of being one, but since everything is happening in the backdrop of army, with wars & action scenes, the label doesn’t apply here. Don’t let the word ‘army’ misguide you, it’s not used as a character in the book, just as a setting. The Cantonment just provides an exotic flavor to it, otherwise the plot can easily be put in Wisteria Lane too.

HOW I RATE ‘MISTRESS OF HONOR’

I rate my books in categories:

1. Trunk dwellers: The books that always make me wonder, ‘what was I thinking?’. Books I know I will never read in my life again. They were left unfinished the first time too. I put them in a trunk in the store room or dump them in my mother’s place. (I love books too much to discard in ‘raddi’ & they’re too awful to be accepted by charity)

2. By the bar: A couple of books that I stack on my wine stand with Red, White & Sparkling. Something to flip while drinking. Something dreamy. Something I won’t cry after, if I spill wine on it. Mostly, coffee table books.

3. The library makers: Books that make my ‘collection’, I doubt if I will re-read them though. They make a good read for my guests. Usually, a place reserved by thrillers, romances, sci-fi et al.

4. In the study: They are the ones scattered all over the study, because I read & re-read them, I want an easy access to them at all times. Somehow, I find scavenging through piles of papers & books easier than going through an alphabetical library. Here you’ll find the likes of Oscar Wilde, Elif Shafak & Gone With The Wind.

5. My bed partners: I can’t keep these books out of my sight. I have to read a page or so of them daily, otherwise something inside me gets really sad. I always keep them on my bedside table- my Rumi, my Gibran.

These are my categories & for me ‘Mistress of Honor’ falls in the category no. 3- ‘The library makers’.

SIX Things That Surviving Nepal Earthquake Taught Me

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Written by Kirti Tarang

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Nagarkot Valley, overlooking Kathmandu, Lalitpur & Bhaktapur. Two hours before the earthquake.

(pic courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/MonishaAjgaonkarPhotography)

It couldn’t have been more poetic- I was circumambulating the sanctum sanctorum of Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, when it happened.

I was reading a list of things that I want from God when in unison all the pigeons on my left flew diagonally up. The collaborate sound of more than hundreds of wings flapping was like a tiger’s roar. It was breath-taking & in slow motion-I thought it happens just in movies. For the next couple of minutes life became a movie scene.

As the pigeons flew, the crowd began chanting- ‘Har Har Mahadev’. They were joyous, the chants. Honestly, I thought some festive ritual is going on. Still, something was odd. It was my head. My head was spinning. Then I realized that no it’s not my head but the world around me that’s spinning. Good God! It’s an earthquake!!!

It came like a life lesson, teaching me the one thing I would’ve never learnt otherwise-

How to keep Safety & Sanity when trapped in a natural disaster:

1. Keeping calm saves lives & shows our national character

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No earthquake was strong enough to shake this guard from his post. His composure was our source of reassurance.

When in an earthquake- run to an open area, check place for pillars, electric wires, cracks etc, sit on knees, bend forward, hands behind the head, a cloth covering nose & mouth. I knew the drill. I did the opposite.

It was a decision that I took; because in situations like these, less people die of tremors & more because of stampede that follows & I was in a super crowded place. So, when I saw all the people have moved to the courtyard of the temple, I just sat where I was, hand on my head. Hoping the structure is sturdy; waiting for the madness to subside.

The structure was steady, but there was no madness to subside. The crowd was calm, joyfully chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev’. When the earthquake seemed to be over, I looked around, people were walking as if nothing had happened! As I was walking out, the destruction was the only proof that a tragedy has struck. In fact, it sounds really dumb but when I went to the shoe counter, I actually asked the man in charge of our shoes, if it was in my head or something really had happened. He smiled & said, ” Madam, worst in past 80 years”. “Then why are you standing here? That too in a closed room”, I wondered. “Madamji, it’s my duty. Otherwise, how will people get the shoes? There’s debris outside, you can’t walk barefoot.” He said handing my packet.

At that time I was amazed, then I got used to it. It wasn’t a one off incidence, it’s the national character of Nepal.

2. Rescue is more important than Art/ News

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Hands clearing the debris > Hands holding lens

As I wandered scared & aimlessly, not knowing the next step to take, I saw a westerner zooming in his DSLR’s lens at a young doctor, who was having a meltdown. Impulsively, I grabbed his lens & yelled, “It’s rude!” “I know it’s rude, but I am from Press”, he said, showing his card. I was about to apologize & back off, when he added, “You see I don’t get opportunities like this. Shiva… God of destruction.. this doctor, she was running a blood donation drive here…she’s so beautiful, this picture can be an icon like that Afghan girl’s”. So, I moved ahead, hugged that girl tight, ruining his frame. If only he would’ve said, “It’s my duty to report” instead of “opportunity”.

He was a tall, strong man, we could’ve used those hands in clearing debris. Is Pulitzer more important than human dignity & humanity?

When the adrenaline of anger drained out I was back to being lost, scared & helpless. Nepalese radio was the only source of news there, since we could hear it in the cars at the parking lot. All mobile networks were jammed.  ‘What was the strength of the earthquake, how many people have died’. Was what they broadcast, when all we wanted to know- ‘Which routes are blocked, which road is safer, where is shelter, where is medical aid.’ No one spoke about that. I was agitated that why reportage isn’t rescue oriented? Aren’t lives more important than information?

That moment I pledged that I will shield myself from ‘media’ news, they are simply medium of terror & rumors. Local authorities are the best way to get information- accurate, in calm tone & balanced- the way news should be. Also, it’s a good idea to sieve the information coming from fellow survivors. Don’t fall in the traps of rumors & please don’t spread any. Be mindful of what you speak to others.

3. Create a support group

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Luggage trolley with shawls as cover create an earthquake safe refuge

It took me an hour of trekking uphill while the ground was shaking & then hitch hiking to reach the airport, where I had left my friend. She wasn’t there!

The tremors kept coming & like a mad woman I was screaming her name, showing her pictures to people if they have seen her. My heart was racing, the head felt dizzy. I was sure if earthquake won’t kill me, heart attack would. Then it occurred to me that to find my friend, to get rescued, I first need to stay alive. Now, the question was- How?

That’s when I spotted them. Two tall men, wearing sweat shirts that read ‘Low Alpine’ & carrying bags that read ‘Everest Base Camp’. “Okay, adventurers. Will know how to survive in adverse conditions”, I thought & leaned closer to read the names on the bag tags. “Oh! Israelis! Must have served in Army.” I knew that I must stick around with them, these men know how to survive.

Apparently, survival is simple. The elder one later confessed, “If you take the attention off your sufferings, & shift focus to aiding others, you are calmer, think better.”

So, I took a deep breathe. Closed my eyes & replayed the events in my head- Everything around me was crumbling, people were dying, losing their loved one, & there I was unscratched, with food, water, phone, money & passport safe in the sling bag of my shoulder. Why? Why did God decide to save me? I am no better than people trapped in debris. Perhaps, now I can try to be a better person.

That thought was the seed of the support group. We found a safe spot to park ourselves at the airport & began sharing our resources with others. The Israeli men had water, sleeping bags & nerves in order, I had chocolates, wipes, shawl & medicines the Chinese group had access to news in Mandrin, Nepalese were translating the local news & they had one phone that worked. I made a phone call home to inform that I am safe & have resources to survive, and told them to try to reach Monisha, my friend & tell her my location.

Around 5pm, my brother could get through her & Monisha, could find our group, she was escorted by a South Asian boy. I knew the worst was over. Yes, the tremors kept coming but we were in a safe spot with food, water, medicines & warm clothes. It became like an adventure camp, we were laughing, talking art culture, of course Bollywood & aiding others. People with small kids & injuries were on our priority list.

It came most handy at night, since it started to drizzle we couldn’t stay in open ground and had to seek a shed, which made us vulnerable to tremors. There we met three Indian medical students, they were trained in disaster management. They created a system of night watch & kept the mood light with jokes.

4. Look for the Indian Army

I don’t know why? I don’t even understand how but the Indian Army people always have the solution irrespective of the problem.

So, I began inquiring about the military attache to the Indian Embassy. We found Maj. Amit Lahkar around 6 in the evening. He was in civil clothes & apparently there since 12:30pm, making arrangements for rescue & evacuation. He met with a reassuring smile, “Are you hurt anywhere?” And then, he informed us that airport is open but flights aren’t likely to operate tonight so he inquired if we had any place to seek shelter for the night, as it was getting cold. He suggested certain shelter places & safe spots. I even introduced him our ‘multi national’ support group. With much love & compassion, he answered everyone’s queries. Then just out of courtesy I asked, “Is your family safe?”. “Ma’m, I am yet to talk to them”, replied with no change in expressions.

I met him again next day. I had two Assamese women with me, whom Monisha & I had rescued. They had lost everything, including their families & ids in the debris of Thamel. They were in urgent need of medical attention. Maj. Amit could converse with them in Assamese, he was trying to understand their situation, when the most unexpected thing happened!

A group who were ironically wearing ‘I love India’ T-Shirts, began mauling him, accusing him of ‘priority check-ins’. I was about to jump in and explain that ‘priority check-in’ of the injured is the way it should be, but I was swept away by a mob of people screaming, ‘Hai- hai..’ & of course news channels followed them. I couldn’t believe they were shaming a man for trying to provide aid to injured women!

Maj. Amit, left the situation & went inside the airport. I was enraged that the ladies can’t go home, because of mob. There was only so much I could sedate them with pain killers. The tremors were on. Dragging them to run, making them kneel now & again was damaging their already injured legs. I was contemplating, the next step when I saw Maj. Amit emerging again with a team of guards & councilor. As mob got busy mauling the Councilor & his guards Maj. Amit sneaked us from the other way, which was long & uneven. Monisha & I were once again dragging the ladies, while Maj. Amit kept a watch on the mob, apologizing that under these circumstances, he couldn’t provide for wheel-chair.

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I thought it was over when we reached the immigration place, now the ladies can go home, but we had another hurdle. The officer informed us that he can’t let the ladies go, since they have no ids to prove that they are Indians. Again, it was Maj. Amit who found a way out. He informed the officer that Monisha & I have rescued them, we have our passports & the ids, so we can sign an undertaking for them. Instead of arguing over a rule he found a solution & got the ladies on board. Monisha & I were also sent since we were the undertaking personnel cum medical attendants.

5. Help as much you can

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Inform local authorities about the areas where injured are & areas where people are still under debris

Even if you don’t believe in the law of karma, look at the practical side of helping:

In my little sling bag, I didn’t have everything that we needed, but since we were sharing everything that we had without even being asked, people were reverting the gesture. On the night of the earthquake when we were lying down, a teenager called Subhash came to us with two plates full of fried rice & an apology for not having spoons. The Gorkhas provided us with sheets & blankets, otherwise the chill would have got us that night.

It’s not just food, water & blanket you can help by so many things, a safety pin, a mouth wash, sanitary napkin, phone charger, a plastic bag. Never know what can come handy to whom, one just needs to be aware of the people around & their needs.

Even small gestures can have immense impact. For instance, when we had reached Delhi, a bus was taking us from the aircraft to the airport. They didn’t have ambulance, so that’s how Monisha & I were to take the injured ladies too. I was trying to get the elderly injured lady on the bus, but it was turning out to be difficult. The lady couldn’t climb & I was too frail to lift. A young boy was standing right in front us, happily chatting on phone. All he had to do was to hold the lady’s hand, while I lift her from waist. He just didn’t bother! An air force personnel saw me struggling & rushed to help. I wonder, if that boy really needed military training to extend, literary, a helping hand.

Interestingly, the most helpful thing is something we all have in inexhaustible amount- a smile. In tough situations, just one smile, a reassuring touch is all one needs to keep one’s problem solving skills going. It’s also wise to keep people around us calm, so that when things get tougher, as they are bound to, the situation of stampede can be a avoided.

6. Be thankful for the little blessings

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If someone offers you a blanket, it’s only good manners to fold it before returning.

I remember when I first saw the rescue aircraft in Kathmandu, the sight was followed by the sound of a lady complaining, “What kind of plane is this? Why they couldn’t fly us commercial with comfortable seats?”

Even if she didn’t understand that a cargo plane can come with supplies & go back with more number of survivors than a commercial aircraft; why couldn’t she appreciate that she is going home when thousands are still stranded?!

Another woman in the Gorkha place, where we had seek shelter at night, began her morning complaining, “Yahan ke log achche nahin hai. Ladeez log ka khayal rakhna chahiye” (People here aren’t good. They should look after ladies) She said this while sipping a hot tea that was brought to her by a Nepalese woman without even asking on her make-shift bed provided by the Gorkhas. A make-shift bed of mattress, blankets an pillow was such a luxury there. She was provided that because she had kids & yes everything was on the house.

Everyone’s life faces the same threat. Do we really have to forget that others are humans too!

Moroever, when there’s a dance of destruction all around us, it’s stupid to inflicting mental agony on self.

HOW WE CAN HELP FROM HOME

1. By not calling non-stop

Phone battery is of utmost importance to the stranded person. The family & friends can assign one person who will coordinate with the victim & rest can pass the message on.

2. Putting pressure on government through social media for rescue & aid. Make them aware that they are being watched.

3. Insisting that media does rescue aiding coverage, instead of looking for ‘great stories’.

4. Sharing information. We don’t know what can help whom.

Empty of Self, Filled with Love: Valentine’s Day in Khajuraho

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Written by: Kirti Tarang

“Love writes a transparent

calligraphy, so on

the empty page my soul

can read & recollect.”

– Rumi

I have reached that place of my life where love resonates more with Rumi than with Rum or Hallmark for that matter. Therefore, going to Khajuraho for bringing in V-Day made sense to me.

How?

Khajuraho’s temples follow the Shaivik cult. Shaivism deems sexual union to be a tool of inner perfection, a means of self-realization & of contact with the supernatural – In each human being there’s a meeting point with the divine. That intersection is the union with beloved. Similarly, Rumi believes that surrendering in love is the passage to divinity. And I, I think Valentine’s Day is a beautiful prostration to that grandeur of love. Now tell me, is there a better way to bow to it?

Hence, embracing a collection of Rumi’s poems I reached Khajuraho on February 14. It’s only fair, that I share the revision of my vision here. After all that’s what Rumi encourages us to do:

“Why would you refuse to give

this love to anyone?

Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups!

They swim the huge fluid freedom.”

Here’s my list of how to swim in the transcendence of that village:

1. Greet the first ray in the Sun Temple

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“Spiritual experience is a modest woman

who looks lovingly at one man.”

-Rumi

I don’t think there’s a better metaphor to describe the moment when the morning rays fall on the Sun Temple. However, there’s no analogy to point out the beauty of basking, with the one you love, in the unseen presence that comes with the first light.

So, set a 6 am alarm when you retire on the night before, because, the gates of the temple open at the sunrise.

2. Meditate under the Yantra, experience the vibrations of Tantra

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“Isn’t it the secret intent

of this taciturn earth, when it forces lovers together,

that inside their boundless emotion all things may

shudder with joy?”

– Rilke

When we meditate alone, it’s an inner work, but when are with the one we love,  it makes us ‘shudder with joy’.

Shaivik cult believes that there exist privileged regions where energy (terrestrial magnetism) rises heavenward & where subtle, extraterrestrial powers find a sort of chimney that allows them to descend to the world of human beings. According to texts of Aitareya Brahmana, using mathematical formulas to express the ratios between energy elements, Yantras are symbolic geometric figures to used to create a prodigious center of energy. The region under these Yantra, the Mandap, marked by four pillars (vault of heaven is considered to be resting on four cardinal) becomes a receptive place for the cosmic energy. Try a short meditation here.

I did. I sat with the intent of just resting in silence. So I didn’t even bother with the lotus position. I was simply sitting with my legs stretched, back reclined to the pillar & palms touching the ground- just admiring the sculptures of the wall in front of me, when it happened. I felt trippy. Like am high on weed, only better- in heightened sobriety, I enjoyed the trance of drunkenness. That’s when I got into Gyaan Mudra. I could feel the vibrations- starting from the tips of my thumbs & index fingers, sliding till my wrists.

“How amazing it would be, if I could experience it in my entire body?!” I thought & with this thought came greed. That’s what brought me back to the material plane.

Therefore, I suggest when you step in the temple, leave the greed outside. Enter meditation with no expectation. Also, it’s a good idea to visit early in the morning, when there’s no crowd.

3.  Get striptease-d with the ‘Light & Sound’ show

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Full disclosure: The script of the Light & Sound show is research-less, insight-less, soul-less & yawn inducing. The creators of the show have put it together with the enthusiasm of a child eating green veggies because his mother won’t let him touch the dessert otherwise. And yet, here I am recommending it to you; because, the present day Indians might be lackadaisical, but our ancestors from 10th century did a magical job with these majestic mystics.

The fashion with which the light flirted with them as I sat under blanket of stars, on a carpet of grass, it was like watching a sensuous burlesque show. It was such a tease, like listening to someone playing rough notations of the music these temples are. It kindled with melody. Provided for imagination. Breathed a fire by making me keener to see the temples in the full glory.

Thus, I suggest before you visit western temples in the morning, attend the ‘Light & Sound’ show in the evening.

4. Play Sherlock with your partner in Da Vinci Code settings

These temples raise interesting questions on the unknown History. The answers are undiscovered. It’s a gold mine for science of deduction. We spent hours interpreting, discussing the possible answers, agreeing & disagreeing. I won’t share our deductions here. They are ours. Moreover, they are simply unverified theories. I will share our wondering though, it will be interesting to know what your interpretations are, about:

a. The Persian/Assyrian Tigers.

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Tiger Statues at Khajuraho

If you look carefully at the tiger statues, it’s difficult to miss the curly locks on their head. That is a very typical Persian/Assyrian style, you can still observe in Parsi statues with curly locks on beards of Gods or animals. As has been told that the Chandela dynasty brought sculpture-rs from various areas in and around India, its interesting to note their personal style reflecting on the statues. Something like a Disney animator leaving hidden messages in the movies.

b.  Mongolian Brahma & warriors

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Artists represent their surroundings in the statues and painting they create. Case in point, the looks of Lord Vishnu as you travel from North to South India. Back to Khujraho, there are statues of Lord Brahma and a number of warriors with very distinct Mongol features. Even the horses that the warriors are riding have mongol eyes. I am yet to encounter such statues in mainland India. Again, is this the work of artists from China/Tibet/Mongol? The point to ponder is – were the Chandela rulers that liberal to allow the artist to give their own personal regional touch in their most prestigious possession?

c.  Burmese Tiger

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Around the temple, faces of tigers are carved, no big deal you say? Well the interesting part is that they bear striking resembling ‘Chinthe’ legendary flying tigers that protect Burmese temples. The tigers that I have come across in Indian architecture are quite different. Again an example of South East Asian influence?

Interestingly, these faces are called ‘Kirtimukh’- the renowned face. What it represents? I am yet to figure out.

d. Story of the Love-Child

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Okay, here is the real mysterious structure that no one seems to talk about. There are no boards from Archaeological Survey of India giving out any info and its the only structure left out in ‘light and sound’ show as well as the Information Booklets. If you notice the structure, it has the domes of Arabic/Muslim influence and the sharp prismatic construction of Hindu architecture. The construction is relatively modern, 18th century by my guess, but has no definitive markings as such and is locked. Seems like an anomaly or love child no one wants to talk about. Just like the ‘Light and Sound Show’ which very prudishly ignores the erotic statues in the temple. Perhaps, it’s a Pandora’s box, which no one wants to open.

e. The Medieval Texts

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Does it take a genius at ASI to translate the tablets carved by the builders themselves so than we can understand their point of view?

5. Stay at Hotel Siddartha

Temple view from the snug bed.

Temple view from the snug bed.

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The reason is three simple words: Location, Location, Location.

I stayed at room no. 201. The best place to stay in the entire village. I could see the temples from my bed. For rs 1590/- it was a steal, given that it had TV, AC & a bath tub!

I was a little apprehensive that since it’s in the heart of the city, it must be beating with crowd & noise. I was wrong. The lane is serene & peaceful. No vehicle is allowed here. Moreover, it’s adjacent to Raja Cafe (only decent place to eat), couple of steps away from the lake, main market, museum,  Ayur Arogyam (Lovely massage place, just be careful of what they use on your face. The masseuse used Fairness cream on mine!!!), cycle rental joint & Shilpgram. This lane is the South Bombay of Khajuraho.

I strongly recommend that you do this pronto. As, they are planning to bulldoze it down. In fact, this entire lane is going to go under thrasher & the entry of the temple will be made from the Lake area. So, I recommend you to visit Khajuraho before the chaos begins.

6. Let the erotica kiss you. Don’t hold back!100660956.m4wpSvmT.IMG_3301 6851384-Erotic-Sculpture-Khajuraho-0 Khajuraho 1 khajuraho-erotic-sculpture 20150215_093038 20150215_085644 20150215_081209

The presence of these sculptures is both magical & educational (I’ve made a bucket list reflective of what I saw). Penetration encompass every conceivable position! Some are so acrobatic, that they require assistance. If you observe carefully, the erotic representation of humans is more realistic, while the gods & other heavenly creatures enjoy romanticized & stylized sex. It’s quite intriguing that scenes of male homosexuality always show at least one person draped in a monastic grab.

What does this symbolism represent? Why ‘pornography’ in land of spirituality? Many masters, many theories. We also had our discussion on the topic. It was like wording our own version of ’50 Shades of Grey’, just that it way more sensuous.

On a spiritual note, coming from the Shaivik cult, my personal belief is that these represent the ties of nature & liberation. Our ‘buddhi’ (conscious intelligence) must strive to free us from Nature’s ‘Vraka’ (designs). For this sexuality must be exposed without artifice. Because, if sexuality manages to keep its secrets from us, it will play games with us. The minute we’ll feel that we have tasted real freedom, it’ll sneak up on us to hold us firmly, preventing liberation. I think it can substantiated by the fact that if we look around, we’ll find that major crises have roots in sexual repression.

The Yogis of Tantric cult, therefore, contemplate on divine phallus, meditate upon centers of eroticism within our body. Through this, they acquire chastity as a technique & not as a virtue. This technique helps them in converting sexual energy into mental power, which is believed to accelerate the journey of enlightenment.

That’s about the Yogis, I don’t have Tantra, yet. I just have love. So, in the company of these sculptors, I closed my language door & opened the love-window. I moved into silence with my partner, we became escapees & revelation came in the language of experience. I wish everyone could live that experience at least once in this life, since its advocacy can’t be verbalized. Although, I feel Rumi came very close it, when he said:

“Stay here, quivering with each moment

like a drop of mercury”

7. Dance with the Gods

When I was in 9th grade, my Kathak teacher wanted me to join her as a backup dancer in Khajuraho festival. I went from ‘Haddippa’ to ‘Siyappa’ in an hour when my parents denied the permission (my final exams were just 2 weeks away).

Since then I have always wondered what it must be like to dance in the temple where Natraj (King of dance- Shiva) resides in his most romantic form. And then, in a moment I stopped wondering & began dancing. What better way to show gratitude to HIM for all the love he has bestowed in my life? The mudras of Kathak, dissolved me with the surroundings and everything became beside the point.

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8. Read Rumi

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9. Paddle up

Khajuraho is best explored on bicycles. You can rent for rupees 50 for a day. Wandering in the unknown with the one you love on cycles is connecting with them on the different level. When we climbed on the cycles our grown up self stayed behind and then began an association between our inner child. It’s beautiful journey to take together.

People say cycling in morning hours in the old village of Khajuraho is fun. I, however, enjoyed cycling in the night in the residential area of Khajuraho, with no street lights, no sense of direction. It was an adventure in a capsule.

10. Quiver with the strings of ‘Iktara’ on Bundelkhandi tunes

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“The nightingale sometimes flies from a garden

to sing in the forest.”

– Rumi

I saw this happening in Khajuraho. I was let down by ‘Shilpgram’- state’s centre to provide a platform to art & culture & got drunk on music in front of the Eastern temples.

A blind man sits with his Iktara, his rendering of Bundelkhandi folk songs has power of absorption. Heads up- Tip him only when you’re ready to leave. As, the minute he gets money, he stops playing & comes back only when he needs more.

What are experiences with Khajuraho? How do you resolve the mystery of the History? What, in your opinion, does the erotica symbolizes?

Offbeat Goa: Rediscovering Goa with my Dog.

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Author: Kirti Tarang

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“I wish Joey was here”, I let out a longing sigh, as I stretched dreamily on a sun bed. This happened last year; and the year before that; and before that. This yearning for having Joey, my dog, with me in Goa, had become a prominent feature of my ‘Bring New Year in Goa’ tradition since past 6 years.

So, this time I decided, “Que Sera Sera. I am taking Joey along.” This meant that I wouldn’t be able to stay at Papilon in Pallolem, or trip at Sunburn or do the unmentionable crazy Goan stuff; since none of these is a dog friendly activity.

“Then why are you going to Goa?”, I was asked.

“I just want to.” I would reply.

However, I found the right answer to this question, when I came back from the trip, “Because I rediscovered Goa. Came closer to Goans & learnt the Susagade (content) way of life.”

Here is ‘How’:

1. By Listening to the waves at Patnem Beach

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Patnem is 15 minutes further down south from Pallolem. I call it Bonsai Pallolem, because of its arresting resemblance with the crescent shaped beach. It is now what Pallolem used to be- clean, serene, tranquil, rejuvenating with friendly yet non-intrusive, sparse crowd.

This beach is my best discovery of the trip. I was apprehensive about getting a shack with sea-view that accommodates dogs too.

Luckily, I found a place called Mickey’s Naughty Point. Mickey, the owner was remarkably welcoming of Joey. The beach huts were in budget, tidy & comfortable. My favorite part was the hammock tied in the thicket of trees that filtered the sun rays, ensuring that they’re balm & not harsh not harsh on my body.

After playful beach mornings; I loved my afternoon siesta brought by lullaby of waves, as I swayed in a hammock, one hand distance from my drink; while Joey attempted to camouflage in the golden sand. For the first time in six years, I dreamed away guiltless, because Joey was privy to the blissfulness of the moment.

2. Make imaginary enemies at the sea

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Joey is a water baby, but this was his first time with the waves. He didn’t get them. He was playing in water, when a wave came pushed him to the shore. Second time, he was ready with his ambush, when the wave came, he bit it! Again he was at the shore, coughing the salty sea water out. He ran to the thicket, drank some water from his bowl to clean the pallet & he was back.

They say four-legged canines are natural swimmers, but Joey never learnt to ride a wave. So, I taught him how to jump them. This became a game for him; jumping the waves, as he marched into the sea. Some people have imaginary friends, Joey had waves, his imaginary enemies at the sea.

3. Play Frisbee till it breaks

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Joey never learnt full fetch. He’ll run & fetch Frisbee, bring it back to you but will never give it to you. You’ve to win it fair & square in a game of tug of war.

So we played this game called ‘Beech ka Bander’ (The monkey in the middle). Joey’ll be in the middle of the two players, he can either catch it mid-air or snatch it when we drop. So, each time he got a chance to lay his jaws on it, he gave his heart & soul to the ‘tug of war’ of winning the Frisbee back.

RIP Frisbee!

4. Build a castle together

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Dogs love digging. The passion with which Joey dug sand at the beach, I was sure that he was digging a tunnel to connect this place with our home in Bombay. It was a shame to let all the hard-work go waste. Hence, the castle.

Joey & I worked as a team to create something together, nice change from our usual destructive selves!

Heads up: When you’re done with your work, the dog WILL come & pee on it to claim the castle.

5. Mix with locals & make friends

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Best thing about traveling is meeting new people. This time I met a French man, who teaches Tai Chi, plays guitar & recites Rumi in the moonlight! Then there was British man who almost set a hotel on fire while trying to fly his mother’s ashes in a Chinese lantern. I must mention my warm air bnb hosts at Calangute, who tried to teach me gardening. Also, the lovely Amaral’s family in Aldona.

We spent our New Year’s evening with them. Roberto told us the tales of his 500 years old Portuguese home; starting from the legends of his grand father who was a doctor with the British Army in WWII, spanning through the time when the house was used as a mini fort,( they’ve left over firing holes as evidence) ending at present day and how they still drink water from their own well. Mineral water companies have approached them several times, but Roberto refuses to monetize family well. The water was ‘Oh-so-sweet’ & so were the brownies that Raquel, his wife had baked with the help of her elder son, while younger one was wiping water near the dinning table, which their dog Doughnut had spilled. Such a blessed home! I however, couldn’t take my eyes off Roberto’s mom. She was sitting on a chair overlooking the kitchen garden, embroidering, while her feet rested on a stool- she was the quintessential heroine of the classics that I have grown up reading.  I wanted to touch & see if a lady of such grace, wits, warmth & beauty is for real! I didn’t. I didn’t want to be kicked out before I finished my brownie.

Since I was having such a nice time with fellow travels & locals, it was only fair that I let Joey do the same.

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Nine of the ten stray dogs might be ferocious & territorial, but there will be one who’s friendly. Joey found  that one at Patnem. They spent morning playing hide and seek at the rocks; of course, under my supervision. By the time, we left Patnem, Joey was a member of a doggie- gang. I called them ‘Bichoo’ gang.

In Calangute, our air bnb hosts had pups. They were doggie version of minions (Despicable Me) & Joey’s side-kicks.

6. Drive Electric Boat at Mayem Lake 

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I can never understand boating at tourist & touts infested lakes. Mayem experience is different. Not just because I got to drive cool electric boats (It felt like Go-karting in the sea); but also because this lake is tucked away in an inconspicuous village near Aldona, screened with back waters. The silence, the lush, migratory birds & dense forest is trippy. When I drove the electric boat against the current of the waves, heads on towards the forest, it had a psychedelic effect. You must experience it to know what I mean.

Do it before the lake gets commercialized & crowded. Do it before the lady who sits at the counter, changes her mind & says, “Dogs are not allowed on the electric boat”, given that there’s no rule book on this saying yes or no.

7. Eat everything

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I love eating sea food in Goa. I am a firm believer of, ‘through native food, one can taste the culture of a place’. So, whatever I had, I ordered a non-oil, non-salt, non-spicy version of it for Joey.

8. Do Doga

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Doggy + Yoga = Doga

Quiz: Find Joey in the picture

8. Watch Sun-set in a traditional Goan home

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View from the patio of the home of my Air bnb host.

Pssst! If you’re not on Airbnb, register using my Air bnb credit & you’ll get rupees 1552  off on your first booking.

Tell me about the off-beaten tracks that you’ve discovered while flashpacking with your dog.

What to do with your nights at Jaipur?

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Author: @Kirti_Tarang

The thing about attending The Jaipur Lit Fest is that one only gets nights to explore the city beyond the Diggi Palace (the venue of the Literature Festival). That’s what I did- Made most of the three nights that I got in the Pink City. In fact, by walking to my room at 3 am, I made a Bombay out of Jaipur.

Here are top 6 ways how to jazz up your nights at Jaipur:

6. Ride an Auto Rickshaw

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I know there are rickshaws everywhere in India, but, Jaipur nights are the only venue that offer broad & empty roads to enjoy them. There’s a surreal joy in letting the cool breeze of the velvety winter tying knots in your hair. The rickshaw drivers of Jaipur make a lovely company with their warm, caring & yet non chatty approach . (This however, doesn’t mean that one doesn’t need to haggle the fare. Do it before getting in)

5. Go spinnin’

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On the 14th floor of the Om Towers, there’s revolving restaurant, which they’ve very creatively named as ‘Revolving Restaurant’! It’s a lazy bum’s paradise. Just sit on the dinning chair & let the floor twirl & show you the entire city in its glistening glory. You can always add sugar & spice to this experience by ordering the traditional Rajasthani thali of ‘Dal Batti’ & ‘Churma’.

Though, they didn’t serve alcohol, the conversation kept pouring in. I don’t remember any of the talk, except that I was giggling & high five-ing through out the dinner. Something was there in the air that a complete stranger proffered to be my new best-friend & I accepted the offer.

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Image Courtesy: @aashi09

4.  Sway with the folk tunes

20150124_190821 It’s rejuvenating to have a couple of ‘thumkas’ under the stars after an intellectually stimulating day at the Lit Fest. For the shy at heart, there’s always an option to watch the gyrating ‘Kalbaliya’ (Rajasthani swirling folk dance) dancer. Or maybe just sing along with the troupe- screaming ‘Aa Raa raa raa raa’ isn’t that tricky? Is it?

3. Quench the wanderlust in the lanes of Old Jaipur

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Image Courtesy: @monologue_ish

Cross the bridal Ajmeri Gate & enter the walled Pink City of Rajputana architecture adorned with traditional motifs. The impregnable daytime lanes of Masala gali & Johri Bazar now titillated like a trained concubine. No touts. No eve-teasers. No hawkers. Just the half a moon, serenity & I

As you wander in these lanes, you will cross Hawa Mahal. Snub it. Ignore it. Don’t even take a moment to look at it & walk away. Reason? It’s nothing but a beautiful cage. The harem of the rulers weren’t allowed to roam in the city. So this Mahal was built so that they can sit & enjoy the panoramic view in natural air conditioning. It is symbol that represents the oppression of Rajasthani women. It shouldn’t be appreciated.

2. Go biking to Nahargarh fort

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Image Courtesy: mygola.com

While most people like to watch the fading sun from this point, we went biking on a Kohl dark sky. The fort gets shut at this hour, but there’s point that the locals call ‘Rang De Basanti’ (Masti ki Pathshala song from the movie was shot here) point that’s the place to hang out at.

Frankly, I didn’t care much for destination. The bike ride was the real fun. Snaking through hair pin bends, where a handful of stars are the only street-light you’ve got; that’s some adventure. Pro tip: If you see a pair of three lights on the road approaching towards you, just stop. Those aren’t lights but the eyes of momma panther crossing with her two cubs!

There’s another road also that leads to this point. Skirt through the cramped streets of old & conservative Jaipur & you’ll find it. It’s not meant for biking. You will have to trek. I did. And then, after four steps I gave up. Every horror story that I had ever read was resurfacing in my head, thank God! I wasn’t alone, but with a sturdy companion. You’re welcome to try & share your experience with me.

1. Chill at Jal Mahal

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 Image Courtesy: tripadvisor.com

The fact that I am using a tripadvisor’s photograph proves how lost I was. Although, even if I had clicked away a million snaps, none of them would have been able to replicate the blissfulness of the moments that I had there.

My childhood home was near a lake & I would spend the mornings plucking lotuses in a boat. Sitting beside the Jal Mahal lake felt like coming home. I was welcomed by migratory birds, who were enjoying the night sky, just like me.  Whispering in between the murmurs of birds, my friend was wondering aloud about Deja Vu viz a viz Hans theory of Parallel Universe. It was so surreal! I wouldn’t have left that place, but I had a dinner promise keep.

PS:

Important pointer Jaipur isn’t a city for solo female travelers, especially at nights. So move in herds, like I did.

Words that won at The Golden Globes

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Stars & shimmer. Couples & couture. Yet, the biggest take away for me from this year’s Golden Globes was the words that were spoken. The way the power of Hollywood & international platform was used to voice stories of women, speak about rape victims, take a dig at Bill Cosby & celebrate the trans community! Still, never deviating from the fun & funny mood of the evening & never making these issues sound frivolous nor being melodramatic about it!

I seriously pray from all my heart that I see a similar scene in a Bollywood Award ceremony soon. It will be such a nice change from homophobic roasts.

Here are my TOP 10 FAVORITE QUOTES from the evening:

1O. By Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

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9. By Amy Adams 

“”It’s just so wonderful that women today have such a strong voice.”

“I’m lucky because I get to stand here tonight with a man who stands beside me, Darren, who would never silence my voice.”

That’s some solid advice- Stop listening to outside voices, and listen to your inner voice. In her acceptance speech Amy Adams highlighted that for women to have their voices heard, it not only takes speaking up; it also takes supportive people who do not shut them down.  It’s high time when stories of women are heard & for this we need everyone to stand by, to listen and to support.

8. By Julianne Moore

 “A happy person was someone who had work and love.”

7. By Gina Rodriques

“Today is a great day. I can & I will. Today is a great day. I can & I did.”

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6. By misty Micheal Keaton

Just the way he got all emotional & rumbled his upbringing in Pennsylvania was so heart warming & inspiring.

5. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s Bill Cosby jokes

“In `Into the Woods,’ Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from her tower for her prince and Sleeping Beauty just thought that she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby”

I have always maintained that rape is never funny — but the way Amy Poehler took dig at Bill Cosby, it was clear that making fun wasn’t the intention. I guess by publicly challenging a powerful man, their intention was to give voices to victims of rape everywhere. Kudos for that!

Here’s the full monologue:

4. By Maggie Gyllenhaal celebrating women for being complicated 

 “What I think is new is the roles for actual women in television and film”

“I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately, what I see actually is women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not; sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not. What I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and film. That’s what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary and it’s what’s turning me on.”

In a world that overlooks unattractive women, mocks angry women and puts pressure to be nothing less than perfect, where the worth of a woman is evaluated against sacrifices that she makes, it’s wonderful to hear Maggie assert that flaws don’t make a woman a failure, they just make her human.

3. By very much in love George Clooney

‘Amal, whatever alchemy brought us together, I couldn’t be more proud to be your husband.’

I am a hopeless romantic & the way George Clooney spoke about his wife Amal just melted my heart. It reaffirmed my faith in true love.

I love the humor in the speech, how he spoke of supporting the small films, his ‘brass ring’ comment, reference to Robin Williams in such a positive way, laughing at himself for Monuments’ Men & Gosh! How gorgeous he looked sporting Je suis Charlie pin- supporting free speech. Woot!

2. By Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda

“Finally, we can put aside that negative stereotype that men aren’t funny!”

With one quote, Lily Tomlin  & Jane Fonda disembowel the annoying myth that women aren’t funny. Totally, heart the satire!

And, my no.1 quote was by Joanne Froggatt

In three simple words, “I heard you”

When Joanne Froggatt mentioned that she had received multiple letters from rape survivors after her rape scene in Downton Abbey, she paid a tribute to them. It gave a platform to their voices when she cited a victim who said that she wasn’t sure why she had written, but that she wanted to be heard. “I heard you,” Froggatt said.

India, Greece & The Lunchbox

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I’ve always been fascinated with Greece. This stems from my love for mythological stories. The stories of ancient India & ancient Greece run parallel. I love connecting dots between the two.

Recently, I was taken by surprise when a Greek friend of mine sent me a mail, drawing comparisons between modern Greece & contemporary India. Surprised, because Greece is a European country & India is still a struggling nation from the third world. Moreover, it was a refreshing that in today’s divisive times, someone out there is looking for things that unite us. What made this mail such a delight was that his observations were based on ‘The Lunchbox’- the movie.

It was so heart warming that there’s someone across the ocean, in a different continent going through same dilemma. Fascinatingly, the bridge that brought us together is a story, ‘The Lunchbox’, a story that both of us liked for the same reasons.

How lucky is Ritesh Batra, to be the one telling this story! How I envy him!

Anyway, here’s the mail from my Greek friend, which brought so much joy to me:

(He had followed this with a little note suggesting that I watch ‘Mary & Max’. I did & now I recommend the same).

Hi Kirti, How are you? Is it cold in India as well 🙂 ? I treated an Indian friend with my mother’s spanakopita but he was not as fascinated as you 🙂 We will see how you like it 🙂 We were watching the Indian film “The Lunchbox” one month ago with friends- have you seen it?- and I realized once more what we Greeks have in common with Indians: Love of food, strong family traditions, ancient civilization. We may even share the negative side these characteristics offer 🙂 eg when we were watching “The Lunchbox” my wife , who is from Lithuania, found it amusing that Indians are as picky as Greeks are with food. I prefer to look for the common ground in all people and the things that unite us. I try to remember how relative things are. How one thing that is rude in one country is polite in another, how a principle that was taken for granted 100 years ago, is now considered ridiculous Looking forward to hearing from you

Dimitris, Athens

This mail is more relevant now, than last month when I got it. No, not because ‘The Lunchbox’ has won a BAFTA nomination, but because of all that happened last week globally- Firing in France, Boko Haram slaughtering 100 people, in India leaders shelling out hate speech. Such a gloomy scenario, & then this mail comes in like a dash of rosy pink, telling us that it’s not that difficult to love each other, when we know each others’ stories.

All we need to do is to talk to each other to realize that beneath all those superficial differences of region & religion we all are just the same.

I wish there were more people like Dimitris, looking for things that untie us. I wish there were more movies like ‘The Lunchbox’ giving us the platform to initiate that dialogue.

Have you also ever felt this way? Found a link of familiarity in an unlikely quarter?

Prescribed Books On Surviving A Breakup

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When ice-cream, chocolate, wine & whine can’t cure you

When we open our heart to love, we make it liable to heart break too. I am saying this because two of my friends got dumped yesterday. One in the afternoon, one at night. As I type this, the number of ‘Dumped Friends’ has reached FOUR!

What’s it about this Christmas that’s inspiring men to act like assholes instead of elves?.

It’s redundant to say that the girls are devastated. Drowned in betrayal, humiliation & rejection; they’re soaked in self pity. Nothing that I say seems to help. So, I thought maybe I should leave them & let them discover their own solace.

Although, I seriously think that right books can take the pain of the process away & make this discovery an entertaining ride.

So, here are the TOP 10 BOOKS that always help me get out of depression when a boy crushes my heart.

10. HIM HER HIM AGAIN. THE END OF HIM.

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The author Patricia Marx says that the book is inspired from her experience with a pretentious & vacuous man. Perhaps that’s why by the time we are at the finishing line, the jerk who made us cry feels like a waste of time & in a way, we are glad that it’s over.

I recommend reading this while listening to Corrs, “I never really loved you anyway.”

9. GONE GIRL

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By now, you must have seen the movie. The book is more delicious. From the first diary entry itself I fell in love with Amy. It was so easy to relate with her. So, by the time she becomes a bitch, she becomes a heroine for me. I cheer for her every move & take sadist delights in the torture she puts Nick through. Oh! It’s so gratifying!!!

8. HAI ANDHERI RAAT

Though this is a poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, it’s on my list. In fact, it’s in my phone too, as a screengrab. Each time I have fallen, I have taken a look at it. It helps me in dusting off & getting up. Whenever someone gets dumped, I text these lines to her:

“Hai, woh saathi,

Ki chumbak loh se jo paas,

Pass kya aaye hriday ke beech hi go ya samaye.

Woh gaye toh le gaye jeene ka adhaar mana.

Khoj mann ka meet koi lau lagana kab mana hai?

Hai andheri raat par diya jalana kab mana hai?”

(That lovely dear! We drawn to each other, like a magnet to iron. It wasn’t just closeness, he nestled at the core of my heart. Yes, now he has left & taken the basis of my life with him. But where is it forbidden to find someone else & ignite a new spark? Yes, it’s a dark night, but who’s stopping you from lighting a lamp?)

7. WHY MEN LOVE BITCHES?

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There are just six words that I’ll say about this book- I gifted it to my best-friend.

6. THE DAY I SHOT THE CUPID

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It’s the perfect doze of lighthearted & witty remarks on dating game that one needs in the overwhelming post break-up period. Yes, it’s insightful & illustrated but for me the most comforting factor is- if a girl like Jennifer Love Hewitt can be mistreated then I don’t have myself to blame. I am fine. He’s the villain of this love-story.

5. HOW TO BE A WOMAN

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I always believe that break ups are times for a reality check. It’s important to accept the truth before moving on. This memoir blended with feminism 101, is the best ally in the process. I say ‘the best’ because it’s a laughter riot & laughs are most welcomed by a face blotched with smudged mascara.

4. HEARTBURN

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I picked this book because it was written by Nora Ephron, the queen of rom-com movies. I recommend this book because it’s funny when it could have been easily been bitter. This for me is the one thing to watch out for after a heart break- we shouldn’t come out of it as a bitter, grumpy & cynical person. We should instead grow wiser & polish our ability to laugh at ourselves.

3. LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE

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This memoir of how Ilene Beckerman rediscovers & reinvents herself after a series of heartbreaks is illustrated by clothes! A book of self discovery with pictures of pretty dresses!!! This is a comfort food for the soul post break up. (The after effects might not be so comforting for the credit card though).

2. WILD

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I absolutely love this book. This is so me. Whenever life pins me to ground, I pack my bags to get lost in lands far & new. That’s the advice I always give to everyone after a break- go travel, get a perspective. So, here I am recommending this book hoping it’ll inspire more to travel.

PS: How amazing is Reese Witherspoon in its movie adaptation. Hope she wins an Oscar for this. Amen!

1GONE WITH THE WIND

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Because Scarlett O’ Hara taught me the greatest lesson of survival:

“I can’t think about it right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think off it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

That’s my list. What’s yours?