Book Title: Swastik Trilogy-Eka – Baramulla Bomber
Author: Clark Prasad
Publication: Niyogi Books
Genre: Science Fiction Espionage Thriller
Call it plain co-incidence but the moment I completed reading the heavily loaded and powerful Baramulla Bomber and set down to write the review of the book, my computer’s external drive had crashed.
“Quantum Physics meets Bible and Vedas in Background of Kashmir and Cricket!” the cover picture screamed at me. While one part of me was inquisitive about this combination of faith, terrorism, ancient weapon, science and logic the other part was treading slowly, wondering what this book was going to hurl back at me. Was I going to survive it unharmed? Would I complete the journey of reading the book enticed to read more? Or, would the whole concept of this “Scientific Fiction Espionage Thriller” just blow over my head?
The protagonists are many in the novel but the ones that we are made to follow are Mansur, Aahana and Adolf.
Mansur Haider is a man of faith from Kashmir aspiring to become a cricketer. Is it possible for a man from troubled Kashmir to aspire and convert his dream into reality?
“Kashmiris cannot dream; other Indians will not support our rise and we will always be looked at with suspicion. Father thought otherwise – of one does not dream, one cannot achieve, he used to say.”
Unknown to him, intelligence agencies from across the globe are trailing him for their own selfish purposes. His girlfriend Aahana Yajurvedi is working hard to locate her friends from the mountaineering team that vanished mysteriously during an earthquake. The Swedish intelligence officer, Adolf Silfverskiold is investigating the mysterious disappearance and Mansur.
So, what is so thrilling about this espionage novel? Well! For one, it is very realistic and the moment you begin reading it albeit after a few moments of confusion you are thrown into the conspiracy of a novel filled with characters and situations that seem to have jumped straight out of a thriller movie.
General Chan’s spies here too, General Pervez’s maniacal henchmen staying in my adjacent room. At least the ISI has told who they are….every Chinese looks a spy to me. General Chan feels I am using ancient Chinese knowledge and he has every right to the results from my use of it.
Dr Nasir pushed the blue elevator button and waited patiently for the cylindrical glass elevator to arrive. He loosened his scarf and scratched his neck gently, rotating his head in a circular motion.
General Pervez and Chan will never appreciate the power of the Vedas. They don’t understand. It’s not about religion but knowledge. After all, the Vedas were given directly by the Gods.
The manipulation of the chant AUM along with some Sanskrit mantras is used to take control of another matter. So, were Dr. Nasir Raja, a predominant scientist and thinker, the ISI and China getting together to create a weapon based on the combination of the primordial sound and modern contemporary science? Was it possible to kill by using an infrasound?
Writing more would be revealing the plot which will prove to be a spoiler for this unique book. The author, Clark aka Suraj Prasad has done a great deal of research to make this wonderful book as realistic as possible. It is as if he himself is on a mission. That is why I cannot refrain myself from mentioning a few lines which a character in the novel representing India at the UN Assembly says:
“Pervez, there are people like you who feel that by shouting a few threatening words, and then using religion as a tool to manipulate emotions, you can blackmail the world. But I stand here to tell you and people like you that we Indians are an ancient race. A race that not only values its own culture, but also respects every other culture. We do not need lectures on it. If you way of thinking was right, then why aren’t you the most prosperous country on the planet? Why aren’t your people the happiest people on Earth?”
Once you are through the first part of the Swastik Trilogy don’t miss out on the Dvitiya part of the novel titled, The Consultant: Shopno Paradox.
Clark Prasad, alter ego of Suraj Prasad is a pharmacist with a management degree who believes in conspiracy theories. Baramulla Bomber is his first book. His first education on the mysteries of the universe came via Carl Sagans Cosmos, and since then he never looked back on reading, watching and discussing about the universe. He grew up during the cold war days with BBC radio being one of his mysterious companions as a kid, when his father played the news regularly every day. World War II news and documentaries on CIA-KGB tussle kept him engaged that time. At present he is a healthcare management consultant based at Bengaluru.
Something that most women prefer to keep hidden or do not wish to openly discuss about, even though it is a universal phenomenon is menstruation. Or ‘periods,’ as most of us women seem to know it as.
I remember my mother telling me about ‘periods’ just a year before it happened.
So, should our children be prepared for this? I am sure that most of you will reply in the affirmative because it is something that growing children must know. I remember my mother telling me about ‘periods’ just a year before it happened. So, when I suddenly discovered a stain I was not exactly horrified although I do remember shedding a few tears because I had been told that my height might take a beating after that unique phenomenon. Just imagine! At a time when there could be greater dangers lurking for a girl whose body was almost ready for womanhood, I was worried about being short!
Well, coming back to the point of informing our kids, I am sure as parents, we get to let them know about it depending upon the circumstances and anything else that might aid us in gauging the appropriate time in preparing our kids. So, we let our daughters know when we think the time is ripe. Right? But, what if we don’t have daughters and have sons instead? Will you tell? Shouldn’t a boy know?
When my son was using Huggies, he was naturally too small to be aware of anything. When he outgrew his hugging pads he was too busy discovering life with a few lessons of etiquette thrown in here and there. Basically, he was too busy to notice anything. When he did notice a sanitary pad one fine day (he was bound to notice Someday!) he was still in single digits, so I explained that all mummies used it. Not fully convinced why and not too bothered why, he continued with life with the occasional ads on television reminding him that his mother was using a product shown on television!!
After all, he was going to face a menstruating woman some day in his life as his wife.
Book Title: My Journey – Transforming Dreams into Actions
Author: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Publication: Rupa Publications
Genre: Non Fiction/Autobiography
I can hear my father tell me,
‘‘I know you have to go away to grow. Does the seagull not fly across the sun, alone and without a nest? You must forego your longing for the land of your memories to move into the dwelling place of your greater desires; our love will not bind you, nor will our needs hold you.”
When this book came into my hands I knew almost immediately that I held a treasure of knowledge. Now, now. Do not presume that this book is about general knowledge that many amongst us were forced to read as kids. The book is instead a plethora of emotions and thoughts tied together like in a bouquet. It is life described from the layman’s point of view.
The narrative hits you where it should – the heart. And, any presumptions that may have been lurking in the crevices of stereotype thoughts are put to rest once one begins reading the book.
- What stands out about this book is that A.P.J. Abdul Kalam does not permit either his fantastic career as a former scientist or an ex-President to derail him from his track of introspection, realization and sharing.
- What stand out are his beautiful memories that take the readers on a whirlwind tour through time.
- What stands out is his unassuming narrative which makes no attempt whatsoever at disguising poverty, impoverishment, failure, hurt, dejection – all which went a long way in shaping the persona of the man we see before us today.
The book, My Journey – Transforming Dreams into Actions neither gives you the heady feeling that an autobiography does replete with accomplishments and the like nor does it pale into insignificance with its description of life in general. It is divided into 12 chapters , small ones that aid you in remembering the significant moments in your life be it a stroll with your father, your first job, the acknowledgement of the love of parents and siblings in your life, your inspiration, your acceptance of failure and the need to carry on in life whatever the loss.
“Joy is fleeting, whereas true happiness and calm come to us only after intense pain, when we have confronted ourselves in the mirror of our souls and understood the self.”
On the professional front he talks about the value and sacrifice of any great work.
“When grand plans for scientific and defence technologies are made, do the people in power think about the sacrifices the people in the laboratories and fields have to make? Political rhetoric alone does not build a nation unless it is backed by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue. That is true nation building.”
Tiny incidents in his life make you understand that he is just like all of us – not a dominating personality of goodness out there to make us feel any less for being an ordinary person. In fact, it is his identification with the ordinary things in life that make us bond with him more through this book. I was touched for instance when I read about the part where he writes about his agony of ‘mortgaging’ a book he held close to his heart during his IIT days in Chennai because he did not have enough money to buy a train ticket to go home to Rameshwaram.
On teachers he says:
“That day I learnt two lessons: a teacher who has his or her student’s progress in mind is the best possible friend, because the teacher knows how to make sure that you excel. And second, there is no such thing as an impossible deadline.”
About his dear mother he writes oh! So lovingly:
“Yet, within that, she served everyone and God with utmost devotion, selflessness and piety. It is this lesson that I have carried from her life – that it does not matter how large or small your sphere of activity is, what counts finally is the commitment that you bring to the job that has been ordained for you in this life.”
On work ethics which he learnt at the grand young age of 8 he writes:
“Mostly, I learnt that to be a working man meant you had to be up and ready to face the day, whatever else may happen to you. Homework, tuition, prayers, all carried on, but the Madras-Dhanushkodi Mail would not wait for me – I had to be present at the station at the correct time and at the correct point to catch the bundles as they came flying in.”
The anecdotes in this beautiful book never fail to astonish me in their simplicity and striking messages as well as in the stark philosophical and practical reality that they reflect.
To simply describe the author whom we all already know very well, I quote him from his book:
“This is described in the Bhagwad Gita: ‘See the flower, how generously it distributes perfume and honey. It gives to all, gives freely of its love. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities.’”
Do not miss the book whatever your genre of interest may be. The book is simply beautiful in its simplicity and is truly inspiring.
From time immemorial prayer has been that invisible link that humans create with God. Naturally, this applies to believers and not to atheists although non believers in their own unique way unknowingly create a connection with the Power Above using science or logic.
Prayer, to me has always been part and parcel of my daily living. Call it a blessing that parents bestow upon their children by inculcating within them the desire to pray or an inborn trait that past lives bring to a mortal’s psyche.
As far as I remember, I was never forced into praying. Rituals and traditions practiced at home helped keep the thought and emotion of prayer and God alive and kicking. Studying in a convent further enriched the power of prayer. Many answered wishes with the aid of prayer only strengthened the bond for the unknown, unseen, benevolent and blessed Power.
My Reason To Pray has remained unchanged for years although the intensity, manner and desire have been influenced by different perceptions and situations over the years. I still pray for myself and my family as I did earlier. With the growing years (and hopefully with a little maturity!) I have begun to pray for people around me – for that ailing grandmother next door, for that stray dog who limps on the road as I pass him by, for that old family friend who suddenly passed away, for Ma Nature, for friendship, for wealth, for health, for contentment, for happiness, for lost dreams and most importantly, for good thoughts…..
This Diwali, I am going to pray again like always. The best part about a festival is the combination of ritual, tradition, celebration and prayer. Yes, sometimes it does happen that amidst all the festivity we do lose track of what is really important for us in life – of connecting within, of connecting with the Divine which gives us this opportunity every year, every day of our lives.
The Sampoorna Lakshmi Pooja Pack is a compact pack that seems to balance festivity, celebration and faith in today’s fast and materialistic world. It is the modern way of not losing track of spirituality and prayer amidst the daily humdrum of life.
‘Simple and effortless yet complete pooja in a pack’ is what this is all about.
The idols for worship, the audio CD and booklet filled with the necessary slokas – all help one to perform the ideal and perfect pooja for Diwali.
I am going to use it this Diwali. I would recommend you use it too to make your Diwali celebration COMPLETE.
Whatever be your reasons for praying , let’s make this Diwali a perfect celebration with faith, devotion, joy and the Sampoorna Lakshmi Pooja Pack.
This post is a part of the blogging contest organized by Cycle Pure Agarbathies and Ripple Links.
HAPPY DIWALI DEAR FRIENDS. MAY THE ALMIGHTY’S GRACE ALWAYS BE WITH YOU.
The bald head,
those branded spherical spectacles,
the white loin cloth and that lean long stick -
we identify so much with all those that symbolized freedom.
Even today, when all seems lost
when law and order is just a line on paper,
when conscience is only a fashionable word
to decorate self help journals,
the brisk steps marching with hope
seem the only way out.
If he could do it without a drop of blood or wounding word
so can we, I think.
If an entire captive nation’s self-respect can be snatched back without malice and mire
so can we retain our self-respect
without resorting to hatred and hurt.
Ideals and values may appear
but when the boat rocks violently
amidst waves of shallow modern living
these symbols of peace and principle drive us
safely back to the shore.
Remembering the senior citizen
who makes us feel alive
years after he has gone,
Let us live life the way
he always wanted -
simple, joyously and with self-respect.
HAPPY GANDHI JAYANTHI
A happy-go-lucky chap, my son, has fun throughout the year except for the gaps that come in for his exams. That too, I think he gets serious about (or, pretends to!) because his mother insists so!
I remember as a child, being extra cautious about my exams. There were many reasons for that.
- One, there was no other way out.
- Two, I was expected to study hard and do well.
- Three, my report card had to be signed by my parents and I did not want to be scolded for doing badly.
- Four, the ranking system made announcing ranks in class by the Principal a hugely self conscious and image building/losing affair.
- Five, I really believed in doing well.
The same does not hold true for my son. Ask him to entertain a group of people and he is a big hit. Ask him to sit down and study for half an hour and he screws up his face. Ask him the formulae in Mathematics and he scratches his head. Ask him the names of mobile gadgets and their prices and he rattles off…
In case you find the article interesting, Read the rest of the article at Parentous.com
Book Title: When Strangers Meet
Author: K. Hari Kumar
Publication: Shrishti Publishers and Distributors
Price: Rs 100,
One fateful day.
A small room.
And a story of a lifetime…”
We need no spirit to tell us what we actually aspire for in life, what is of value to us ultimately in life but sadly, these are exactly the things we bungle up in life. Especially when we are young with fresh aggressive blood running in our veins!
While reading this book, there were many places that I could either identify with the characters or remember having seen them somewhere or even interacted with them! What makes this little book of 206 pages an utter delight is its extremely simple narration and the theme of re-discovering oneself. Most importantly, one gets to understand through the characters what is really important to oneself before the sands of time create a horrifying storm, destroying all desire, ambition and relationships.
The book is thoroughly entertaining even while retaining the elements that are needed to make a story worth reading and also carry home certain points that we hide deep within our souls.
The lives of three persons Jai, Iyer and Pathan are interwoven in this unique tale of want, desire, need and redemption. The author is currently working in the film industry and has used his experience in acting, writing and directing to come up with a novel which appears deceptively simple!
Jai from Gurgaon is at an age when he wants to decide what he wishes to do with his life. And that is certainly not doing what his father wants – and that is engineering! He wants to do animation instead. Mathematics is a subject he dislikes terribly more so because his father teaches Maths and is insistent that he too becomes adept at the subject.
Iyer aka ‘Thalaiva’ from Tuticorin wants to be an actor but his father wants him to pursue …yes, you got it right –Mathematics. Finally, the day of reckoning descends and:
“Now, we stood there, face to face.
Man to man.
Father to son.
Son to father.”
Arshad, the son of Hussain (Pathan), a tea seller wants to “ …dance to the tune of the rain like other kids his age, like his brothers.” But, he had the responsibility of assisting his father in his work. He had little desires like the children who had everything in life but as of now only what is father said mattered.
All are trying to play their cards choosing paths that lead them away from the usual stereotype secure situations they have been living until now.
Where would it lead them?
Will they be able to fulfil their dreams on their own?
Will desires and aspirations based on the conflicts, trials and frustration of dear ones ever fructify?
The author has done full justice to the story plot. And the nice thing about the book is that anyone, practically anybody irrespective of the kinds of books that they read will enjoy reading this book. A fit manuscript for a movie in fact!
And the best message lies right here:
“Ignore things that provoke you, instead of reacting to them. Laugh your way through everything, everyday. It is funny but at the end of the day, we are all dirt in the sand. What is the point in wiping off the dirt, when you know you will be covered again soon?”
A great way to wind off! Don’t miss the book.
K.Hari Kumar is the 24-year old author of WHEN STRANGERS MEET.. He’s also an international award nominated Photographer and independent filmmaker who has worked in over twenty television commercials, directed 6 short films and two documentaries (one for an international artist).
The Stranger’s second short film ‘The Man who loved me’ was a commercial suspense thriller on homosexuality. The film was selected at the IFF 2011, Melbourne. His debut novel ‘When Strangers meet..’ is an adaptation of his first short film ‘My name is Iyer’.
When he’s not writing or travelling, he works with his father in a small farm in the South Indian countryside where he lives with his parents and three cats.
“Agni knew the pain, strange, heartless and searing. It charred him every time like the fire that destroyed his only family.” “They loved you more than you could ever imagine and I know they also knew how much you loved them. Let us only remember them in our happiness and not in our grief. Let them stay as beautiful in our memories as they were in the real life,” Agni managed to say, but in his heart he knew he needed vengeance to wash that taint away.
Fantasy, historical fiction and a fantastic sense of imagination make this book what it is. For a 25 year old author, Arka Chakrabarthi has done a remarkable job of letting loose his imagination and his literary skills.
Before I write anything further about the novel, its plots and its characters – one thing needs to be specified – if you are not a fantasy fiction fan or disbelieve in the unimaginable magical powers of certain forces then, this book is certainly not for you!
The land of Gaya serves as an excellent backdrop for this intriguingly mysterious novel. Gaya is separated into two large continents – The Land of the Rising Sun and The Land of The Setting Sun.
Agni is the main protagonist of this novel. Son of King Arkansas and Queen Serene born at Athena, he is in danger of being snatched away by ‘The Dark Guardians’ since a Law of Ascension does not permit a son to be born (however queer that may sound!). So, he is transported to The Land of The Rising Sun and he grows up as handsome Agni with his friends Vrish and Prince Yama.
It is during the Festival of Trinetra that Agni’s and Vrish’s peaceful and happy go-lucky lives are destroyed. Vrish’s sister Malini whom Agni loved dearly and father Briksha (the same merchant who helped baby Agni escape from the clutches of The Dark Guardians) are killed in a mysterious fire. And Agni is left with a pendent and a mysterious symbol drawn in blood by the dying Malini. It is now that Agni’s and Vrish’s journey of vengeance commences. The place of Nisarga is where the events unfold and one by one, the mystery is unravelled.
I am tempted to write more but that would mean tampering with the interested reader’s enthusiasm. This said, I only wish that the book had fewer characters as they tend to mislead you as they draw you much against your will within the mystery of this brilliantly narrated fantasy tale.
So, will Agni and Vrish succeed in their mission?
Or will they permit their past to drown them in an unending saga of revenge, hatred and cynicism?
Read on to know more.
Kudos to the author for weaving this wonderful book of mysterious characters and unimaginable tale of mystical prophecies! For those desirous to get lost in such an enticing world, this is THE book!
When winds of change
to drown you
in their callous modes of destruction…..
When forgotten values,
in the mire of corrupt thoughts and emotion
strangulate your conscience……
When a country
a mere medium to grab greedily
transcending all classes of humanity…
beyond selfish satiation
and mass misendeavour…
the value of freedom
becomes less a page in history,
more a functioning moment in one’s present,
less a memory,
more a committment
to compensate malice, hurt and despair.
This independence day
Let’s wrap our minds and souls
in the truth of the tri- colour
promising to be honest
Name: Mint-o Ultramintz
Brand: ITC Limited
Price: Rs 50
No. Of pellets: 60
“Allow us to tell you a bit about mint-O Ultramintz. It is the latest offering from ITC and is designed for discerning people like you.
Each mint is laced with peppermint oil, imported from France, and is made from the finest quality of menthol.
It is powered by speciality cooling compounds for unimaginable cooling.
What’s more, they are sugar-free so you can enjoy them without worrying about calories.”
Are you calorie conscious? And love mint too?
Are you guilty of popping in huge sized mints at the drop of a pin? And then, worry to no end about the sugar and calorie increase?
Well, here is a mint that is calorie conscious and sugar free too!
IT’S CALLED MINT-O ULTRAMINTZ!
Before I actually dive into the description aspect of the product I must acknowledge and appreciate the marketing strategy employed by ITC Limited. That package that arrived home with my name printed on the transparent sheet wrapping the mint boxes had me impressed! As I opened the blue cardboard box wondering what was so very exquisite about these sugar free lozenges, I was pleasantly surprised to see a cute little box seated snugly on a black satin bed. Making a product is one thing. Selling it in an impressive and aesthetic style is something else all together!
I bent forward and opened the little BIB – Box In Black (how do you like the name I invented?) and out rolled a little white peppermint ball. I eagerly laid it on my tongue wondering what difference would such a tiny little menthol ball do? As if in response to my thought, the mint just spread its tingling taste in my mouth and even before I could say Ooh La! La! It had melted leaving me wanting some more!
For those expecting something non-minty in the Mint -O Ultramintz, please do not deceive yourself. It is mint all right and of the right kind. Just enough that is needed for one little pop into your mouth. So, you get what you want and need. There is no necessity at all to keep rolling it in your mouth, impatiently wait for it to melt and disappear. What adds charm to this special mint is that it is stated to be zero sugar mint with menthol that uses the ‘best peppermint oils from France.
Now, isn’t that lovely?
The only deterrent is that the cute little BIB with its even cuter 60 pellets are too tiny to satiate one’s desire at one go. So, stay warned. Or else, you might empty the calorie conscious, sugar free extra strong peppermint in a jiffy. Then, don’t tell me, I didn’t warn you!!