Sunday, March 31, 2013

Soldiers for Women

When I first saw the Gillette “Soldiers for Women” advertisement on TV (, it enraged me. What did they mean – do we women need soldiers to protect us? But, when BlogAdda came up with the concept of blogging about “Soldiers for Women” – men who have stood up for women with courage and integrity, it made sense. Why not write about those men in our lives who have respected us, supported us and been there with us throughout? As Tom Peters says, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.”

I gave it a lot of thought and realized that there is no single person whom I can write about. So, I have categorized my Soldiers relationship-wise.

My Father:

For every girl, her father is a hero. She idolizes him. She thinks her dad is the strongest, most intelligent and most handsome person in the world. When she grows up, she secretly hopes to meet someone like her father and get married to him. I was/am no different. My father was a strict man. However, the reason I consider him my soldier is because he was always there for me. He encouraged my dreams – be it gymnastics or reading. He always took time out for me – we went to the park, to the beach, for vacations, etc. I have developed my love for quotations from him – he would diligently note down the quotations he liked in a small notepad. Also, I have picked up photography from him – he was a brilliant photographer; he always made me look beautiful.

My Brother:

My brother is a couple of years younger than me and I have always been the elder, protective sister. It was my duty to make sure he went to school, he studied, he ate properly, etc. and I did it without any fuss. However, as we grew up, I realized my brother has started becoming my soldier. He started taking care of me without being vocal about it. The midnight phone call on my birthday; a surprise book sent by courier on Raksha Bandha Day; chit-chatting with me late into the night exchanging work related talks – all this made me realize that my younger brother has now grown up to be a sensitive and caring adult. He is not overtly expressive about his feelings. But deep down, by his very actions, he touches my heart.

My Bosses:

My first boss was this tyrannical, almost dictator-like person whom we all feared. He was passionate about his work and expected us all to be as well. However, fresh and new into a job, we never managed to fulfil his expectations. When it was time for me to quit the organization, he said something to me which I remember to this day – “We can find somebody with your skills, but not your attitude.” His confidence in my abilities made my self-confidence sky-rocket; I appreciate the huge leap of boost he gave me.

The second boss I worked with was like a jackfruit – hard and thorny on the outside; soft and sweet on the inside. Whenever we sat back late for work, he always inquired how would I go home. More than once, he volunteered to drop me home. We had long discussions and chats on my goals and aspirations and what did I want to do with my life.

My Colleagues:

I have been fortunate and blessed to have worked with such wonderful male colleagues – who treated me as one of their own but who also always remembered that, as a woman, my safety was of paramount importance. One colleague dropped me home on the midnight of 31st March, when we finished our annual yearly closing at the factory, when his house was right next door and mine was about 25 kms. away. His rationale – I did not do anything out of the ordinary; I felt I needed to do this. Another colleague always checks with me where I am going and what time I am expected to return home.

My Friends:

They say you cannot choose your family but you can choose your friends. And I am glad I chose such wonderful friends. They go out of the way to ensure my comfort and well-being. They always make me feel so special – by their words and their actions.

A big thanks to BlogAdda, because of whom, I was forced to think and put down into words how and why these soldiers play such an important part in my life. I cherish each and every one of them and am truly grateful for their presence in my life.

This post is a part of #Soldierforwomen in association with

Pictures have been used for representational purposes only; they have been taken from

The Sunday Book Club - A Walk Down Memory Lane

Come Sunday afternoon a group of bibliophiles patiently assemble at their desktops, laptops and/or mobiles to discuss and debate on books courtesy The Sunday Book Club #TSBC on Twitter for an hour. Well, today’s topic was on children’s books – what kind of books would they like, which books do we remember having read as children, whose responsibility is it to ensure that a child reads, etc.

One of the advantages of such a discussion is the number of books one comes to know about. One can always make a note of it for posterity and hope to read at least some, if not all, of these in the future. Well, I have compiled just such a list arising out of today’s discussions. I have only mentioned the name of the book and/or the author below; the Twitter handle of the person who recommended the book has been skipped.

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl

2. Tintin comics

3. Mr. Pink Whistle

4. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

5. Babar Comes to America

6. Tinkle

7. All books of Enid Blyton – The Mystery of the Strange Messages, The Faraway Tree Series

8. Noddy series

9. Rat a tat tat & Dunno’s Adventures – Nikolai Nosov

10. Harry Potter series

11. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson

12. Asterix comics

13. Arabian Nights

14. Famous Five

15. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs

16. Chacha Chaudhary

17. Pinky

18. Chandamama

19. Target

20. Champak

21. Phantom comics

22. Aesop’s Fables

23. Hardy Boys

24. The Bobbsey Twins

25. The Three Investigators

26. Jungle Book

27. Malgudi Days

28. Little Women

29. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

30. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

31. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

32. Alice In Wonderland

33. Gulliver’s Travels

34. Wizard Of Oz

35. Akbar & Birbal

36. Lord Of The Rings

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

38. Tom Sawyer

39. Angry Maushi by Abhijit Kini

40. Jataka Tales

41. Panchatantra

42. Catcher in The Rye

43. The Alchemist

44. The Diary of Anne Frank

45. Charlotte’s Web

46. Growing Up in Pandupur by Chatura Rao

47. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

48. Books of Ruskin Bond

49. Around the World in 80 Days

50. Feluda detective novels by Satyajit Ray

51. Robot Short Stories of Issac Asimov

Alas, an hour comes to an end too soon! But, at the end of it, you have so many recommendations which will last through the coming week. And then there's Sunday again and with it #TSBC :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Behind The Silicon Mask - Eshwar Sundaresan

As the name of the novel suggests, it pertains to the lives of people working in the IT industry as the word ‘silicon’ has come to be associated with IT.

The blurb of the book mentions the following: A serial killer targeting immigrants. A record-shattering snowstorm that aids his cold mission. A community of two hundred Indian IT professionals under siege. A rapacious corporate employer, an unflinching deadline and a boss willing to risk anything. A tale-twist in every living room and bedroom. A bleak, fateful Friday that brings together all these elements and changes lives forever.

The novel begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, where the two protagonists Partho Sen and Varun Belthangady, Indian IT professionals who work with CIKS, Bangalore, are currently posted at Mayflower Mercantile. Partho is at his home, watching the snow outside and unable to sleep; Varun is hard at work because he has a project deadline to meet. They share a house in one of the housing complexes close to their place of work, along with many other Indians who also work at Mayflower.

Milwaukee is troubled by a serial killer who has so far killed three people and ends up killing his fourth victim – a Singaporean student. Based on the data available, the police are able to piece together the fact that the killer’s targets are immigrants working in the United States.

Along with these two primary characters, the novel features a host of other characters including Becky Dalton (Varun’s colleague in the project), Stephanie Zachary (a news reporter), Detective Farley and his assistants Larry Oates and Josh Eiken, Laks Deshpande, Rashmi (Partho’s girlfriend), Arpita (Varun’s girlfriend), etc.

How all the characters’ lives intersect; how their lives are at risk at the hands of the serial killer and whether the police are able to nab him before he ends up taking more lives forms the rest of the novel.

The genre of the novel is that of a thriller. I found it to be a page-turner and finished it in almost one sitting. Since the novel primarily focuses on IT, the author has included a lot of jargon pertaining to software development and project testing. Also, the novel moves effortlessly from Milwaukee to Bangalore as it shapes the stories of the different people.

The author has seamlessly pieced together the intricacies of human relationships – between a boss and a colleague; between Partho and his girlfriend and Varun and his girlfriend; a husband and his trophy wife; colleagues working together across different time zones. It also dwells upon how, for a corporate, a deadline is so important that it may overlook a hidden danger to its employees. The author also touches upon how the power of public relations is able to make a company or an individual; what one sees is not always what the reality is.

I found the book to be an easy and an interesting read. The theme is unique and there are quite a few episodes and events which crisscross to lead us to the climax. What I did not like, however, is the fact that there are so many characters; it becomes difficult to remember who is who in the middle of the book. I believe the book would not have lost its integral plot had it done away with a few characters.

Overall the book is definitely worth a read. I am going with a rating of 4/5. The book was able to hold my interest for most part (except where it got a little technical).

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Sunday Book Club

Edited to add: This post was adjudged as one among the two best posts by #TSBC. Hurray :)

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles William Eliot.

I have been an avid reader ever since I can remember. As a child, I would devour books daily, especially in the summer vacations when I would finish a book in no time and then wait for the next day to arrive so that I could go and exchange the book in the library; they unfortunately let me read only one book per day.

As a teenager and a young adult, my choice in books changed but not my reading habits. I still continued to read them like there’s no tomorrow. And, now, as a working professional, I find less time to read, however, I make sure I catch up on my reading over the weekend. Also, my tastes have now diversified into non-fiction including such categories as politics, management, religion, etc.

The Internet revolution has been a boon for us book-lovers. There are websites catering to book reviews, book discussions, author chats, etc. On social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, several handles and pages are dedicated to promote the cause of reading and encourage discussions among the readers.

One such handle on Twitter is @TSBookClub – The Sunday Book Club (#TSBC). A book club sounds like a relic from the romantic past – it makes one nostalgic when one visualizes it – people getting together under one roof and discussing about books. One can almost imagine such book clubs when the British ruled over India.

I chanced upon it quite by accident one Sunday when I was browsing through Twitter. #TSBC is a unique book club in that it encourages discussions between readers on a specific topic each Sunday between 3.00-4.00 p.m. It has been founded by Sudha Ganapathi (@sudhagee), Raghav Modi (@raghavmodi) and Rahul Gupta (@meetneo) who all stay in separate cities but manage the account nonetheless.

For me personally, the best part about #TSBC is the fact that one can have discussions on a particular topic with like-minded individuals. Reading, per se, is an individual activity – one picks up a book, one reads and sometimes one discusses whether the book was good or bad with his/her friends. On #TSBC, the discussions are more in a focused manner; they are held via a series of questions posed by the handle where readers are encouraged to post their views/opinions/suggestions, etc.

Secondly, since it is an online discussion, one need not worry about how to answer and what to answer. Often, in a face-to-face meeting, one may get a little conscious and not express exactly what they are thinking. The online fa├žade provides an easy solution to that.

I have been participating in the discussion for the last two Sundays – the first Sunday was a discussion on women authors (considering it was International Women’s Day on 8th March) and the next Sunday there was a discussion on political books and politics as a genre. There was also a giveaway hosted by #TSBC on that day for the best answers – the giveaway was the book titled, Indira Gandhi – The Final Chapter by Suraj Eskay Sriram.

Apart from getting to know what other people think, one can also get a ready reckoner of which books others find interesting in a particular genre; one can always pick up these books to read later! Also, the questions are framed in such a manner that it makes one think deeply and thoroughly before answering – it makes you fall in love with reading all over again.

Through the week, #TSBC interacts with its followers in different ways – by asking us to come up with a word and its meaning or to quote our favourite word which brings a smile to our face. Thus, the interaction is not limited only to each Sunday but also through the week.

I look forward to more such discussions and interactions with #TSBC and its followers; may I get enlightened and may I get a list of many more books to read. In the process, if I end up making some friends, that would be an absolute bonus!

I encourage those who are fond of reading to try out the #TSBC one Sunday; it is much more sensible than wasting the afternoon by sleeping or idling away. Didn’t Groucho Marx say, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Return of the Braids

“The hair is the richest ornament of women” said Martin Luther.

Nothing could be truer. Women, including yours truly, obsess over our hair irrespective of our age, the length/colour/thickness of our hair, etc. We could spend days complaining over how we never seem to find a good hairdresser, how we often have bad hair days, how someone always looks like she has just stepped out of a saloon, etc. We also discuss about whether we should colour our hair, dye it, iron it or just let it remain the way nature intended it to.

According to me, women blessed with long hair have an unfair advantage over those with short hair. The ones with long hair can style their hair into all sorts of hairstyles including buns, braids, ponytails, or just leave it open. The ones with short hair can only curse their hair growth and the probable reasons for it – pollution, diet, hormones, stress, you get the picture!

In the good old days when my hair and I shared a wonderful relationship, I used to often braid it when it was not in a ponytail. In school, it was compulsory for the ones with long hair to tie them neatly into two braids with red ribbons at the end. Was this not a familiar sight for most of us in school? We would end up comparing the lengths of our braids. Braid-pulling was an accepted form of ragging then :)