Thursday, June 15, 2017

Books on this Blog

I didn't know that I have over 100 book reviews on this blog. I learned this only when I consolidated all of them on one Page (which you can find at the top, below the header image). I decided to put them all together when I found it on several book blogs, and realized how convenient it is for everyone.   

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Book review: 3 Books on Food, Nutrition and Wellness

1. Don't Lose Your Mind Lose Your Weight

Author: Rujuta Diwekar
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 288
Price: Rs 199
Genre: Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 10/10
Format: Paperback

 Of all the books I have ever read about food and nutrition, this book has been the best and the simplest to follow. I first read this book about 4 years back and incorporated a lot of learnings into my lifestyle. I benefitted tremendously along the way; but no matter how motivated you had been, you lose some amount of enthusiasm as time passes. So, I re-read it recently.

I first read about Rujuta Diwekar when Kareena Kapoor accredited her for her own metamorphosis during Tashan.

When Rujuta wrote this book, it was lapped up by everyone. The best thing about this book is its simplicity. The book is easy to read, even for non-readers. The language is very simple; in fact, it is very conversational (with a liberal use of hinglish). This was perhaps the first time a nutritionist talked about the wisdom of eating traditional Indian food and giving more importance to local food.

She tells you to follow some basic principles and use your common sense. For example, don’t start your day with tea or coffee but with a fruit. She asks you to eat every 2 hours and keep the food portions small. Eat more during the day. Food should be directly proportional to your level of activity. Give importance to nutrition over calories. Add Ghee to your daily diet. There are several such nuggets of information which are easy to understand and adopt. Once you understand the basic principles, you can plan your own diet according to your lifestyle. But she cautions, just eating right without exercising is only half the battle won. Both are equally important. She writes “….exercise is a part of adopting a better lifestyle but it is NOT an alternative to eating right.”

She says that food has unnecessarily been made into a villain, when in fact; all food is good if eaten wisely. Follow a diet which you can follow all your life. Any sort of extreme diet doesn’t work because they are not sustainable. This is what I love the most about this book, you are not asked to eat some fancy or exotic things, you just need to eat regular Indian food – but you must take care of the proportions and timing.  

I have always recommended this book to everyone and cannot say enough how life-altering this can be. It is every bit worth the time and money.

If you want to read only one book on food and nutrition, this has to be it. I have also read the author’s second book ‘Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha’, but it didn’t appeal to me much. I do wish to read her latest book ‘Indian Superfoods’ though.

2. The Great Indian Diet

Author: Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Luke Coutinho
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 288
Price: Rs 299
Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 7/10
Format: e-book 

Shilpa Shetty has, unarguably, one of the best bodies in Bollywood. She is a strong proponent of healthy living. She managed to shed all the weight she had gained during her pregnancy through healthy eating and exercising. I had read some excerpts from the book and found it interesting. This book has been co-authored by Luke Coutinho who is a nutritionist, master coach and mastermind behind GOQii’s lifestyle and health coaching model. 

In its approach towards healthy eating, this book is similar to Rujuta’s ‘Don’t Lose Your Mind…’ but it certainly has a lot of additional information about different things that create the Great Indian food. 

It dwells into the evolution of Indian food, the incredible health benefits of common spices, different oils and variety of grains that we usually eat in Indian homes, the Acidic and Alkaline food, reading labels before buying packaged food, and so on. 

Obviously, different books and authors bring different things to the table, so one needs to use common sense and not blindly follow anything. Shilpa recommends 3 main meals and 2 in-between meals as against Rujuta’s recommendation of eating every 2 hours. Shilpa starts her day with tea, while Rujuta’s first principle talks about never to start your day with tea or coffee. 

In my opinion, this can be a good book to read in addition to Rujuta’s Don’t LoseYour Mind, Lose Your Weight’.

3. Eat Delete: How to Get Off the Weight Loss Cycle for Good

Author: Pooja Makhija
Publisher: Collins
Pages: 248 
Price: Rs 199
Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 6/10
Format: Paperback

I have a fascination for books on food, nutrition and health. I have read quite a few books in this genre and several are on my TBR list. It never kills to learn more, right? You always take away something useful from each one of them.

This book came to me a long time back through the publishers. Pooja Makhija is also a celebrity nutritionist (like Rujuta Diwekar). 

The cover page is vibrant and appealing. The book comes with a little booklet to record your diet. The back cover informs: For the first time in India, a leading nutritionist has worked with psychologists to give you a combined mind-body weight loss solution. Figure out not just what to eat, but also why you eat the way you do. Tackle the problem at the source.

Much of the initial part of the book dwells into convincing the reader that food is not an enemy, neither should it be considered entertainment. As they say ‘it’s all in the mind’. I have read this often about running too. To beginners, even 1 Km looks impossible but people are doing ultra-running like it is a jog in the park. So, Pooja targets the psychology of people first in her book. Will power is not something that you are born with; you can cultivate it with practice. If you want to lose weight, you need a strong will power. She has even given tips on how to avoid a party or how to stick to your healthy eating plan if you must attend a party, because most people flounder when they eat out. 

There are questions which show you if you are in the red zone of weight loss. The book discusses different mindsets of people and why inspite of the fact that so many people want to lose weight, they even know that they should be eating healthy; and yet their will power is not strong enough.

In her book, Pooja also talks about the significance of eating frequently and exercising. She advises how one can go about restricting certain food items initially to achieve the desired weight loss. She says “Whatever you want to eat can be re-integrated into your system when you have lost the weight you wanted to. Long term weight loss is about balance, proportion and control.”

She has certainly put me into a spot by saying that drinking warm lemon water can cause bone leeching! I haven’t found any solid proof to support this; on the contrary I have found several articles on benefits of drinking that. I even checked with a doctor, who said that lemon water may not have any benefit (though I disagree) but it surely does no harm.

Personally, I found this book as an average read, however, the experience of reading any book is unique to every reader. To someone who hasn’t read anything on food and nutrition and requires some conditioning of the mind to get on the path of eating healthy, this book can certainly offer much more.    

Review Book Courtesy: HarperCollins India

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review: Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored

Title: Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored 
Author: Rishi Kapoor & Meena Iyer
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Pages: 284  
Price: Rs 599
Genre:Autobiography / Films
Rating: 6/10
Format: e-book 

About the book [from the publisher's website]
Only, Rishi Kapoor was and is so much more. Few actors in Hindi cinema have had this sort of a career arc: from the gawky adolescent pining for his schoolteacher (Mera Naam Joker, 1970) to the naughty ninety-year-old (Kapoor & Sons, 2016), Rishi Kapoor has regaled audiences for close to fifty years. He won a National Award for his debut, became an overnight sensation with his first film as a leading man (Bobby, 1973), and carved a niche for himself with a string of romantic musical blockbusters in an era known for its angst-ridden films. He was the youth icon that is still the toast of the satellite TV circuit. The songs he lip-synced are the bread and butter of all radio stations even today. Then there was the second coming after a brief hiatus in the 1990s – as one of the finest actors in mainstream Hindi cinema with powerhouse performances in films like Do Dooni Chaar, D-Day, Agneepath and others. Characteristically candid, Rishi Kapoor brings Punjabi brio to the writing of Khullam Khulla. This is as up close and personal a biography as any fan could have hoped for. He writes about growing up in the shadow of a legendary father, skipping school to act in Mera Naam Joker, the workings of the musical hits of the
era, an encounter with Dawood Ibrahim, his heroines (their working relationship, the gossip and the frisson that was sometimes real), his approach to his craft, his tryst with clinical depression, and more. A foreword by Ranbir Kapoor and a stirring afterword by Neetu Singh bookend the warmest, most dil se biography an Indian star has ever penned.


Bollywood biographies attract a lot of eyeballs and interest, especially if you are a Bollywood buff. Rishi Kapoor may not have been part of any path-breaking cinema but by virtue of being part of Bollywood’s supposed first family, his biography was anticipated to be interesting.  

As the book promises, Rishi Kapoor is candid about his life. He talks about growing up as Raj Kapoor’s son and how they were always allowed to drop in on their studio, how he dropped out of school to be part of the movie business, his debut, his years as the rich lover boy on the celluloid; he accepts that he never experimented, never prepared for any role, never went out of his way to work with anybody. He just kept on doing what he was offered. 

He writes “For decades, I had breezed through a steady line-up of romantic roles. It came so naturally to me that except for choosing a new jersey, there was little pre-shoot work to do.”

He is also unafraid of ruffling some feathers in the way he points out his grievances with colleagues like Amitabh Bachchan or Rajesh Khanna, or with friends like Rakesh Roshan and Jeetendra. 

The biggest charm of this book is its candor and openness, as if he is unafraid of being judged. Otherwise about his life or filmography, there isn’t any insight. 

The book also lacks a structure; though he writes about his father and grandfather, his brothers and sisters, his children, his wife, his movies; yet the stuff somehow does not seem organized in a logical way.

He has also written about his family. There is no new revelation apart from the fact that may be his daughter also nursed a desire to be an actress but let her ambitions bite the dust because her father was protective (?). Most fathers are protective. But to not let your daughter pursue her dreams is selfish. 

As a boyfriend, he was difficult and extremely possessive. Neetu Kapoor keeps on saying that she dreamt of having a family and not of stardom. But he admits that he never went out of his way to encourage her to pursue acting. As a father, he always remained an unapproachable guy like his dad used to be. He never questioned the kind of relationship a father and son must share. He did not bring his personal approach to the relationship.

The biggest revelation is to accept as Raj Kapoor’s son of the former’s affair with Nargis and Vyajantimala. And another thing note-worthy in the entire book is what Naseeruddin Shah told him once -
‘Why don’t actors, male and female, understand that hands have been given to us by God as a biological part of the human body? Why do they have to do all kinds of weird things with their hands when they don’t know what to do in a scene?’ 

It is not an exciting read, it is not unreadable either (I finished it in a day!). It is just an open account of Rishi Kapoor’s life. Do you get to know him as a person? Yes, you do. I don’t know if the expected outcome was positive but to me, he came across as snobbish, even selfish a lot many times.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

Title: Train to Pakistan
Author:Khushwant Singh
Publisher: Ravi Dayal Publisher
Pages: 207
Price: Rs 195
Genre: Fiction / Historical fiction / India
Rating: 7/10
Format: Paperback

About the book [from the cover flap]

Train to Pakistan was first published in 1956 and is now widely accepted as being one of the classics of modern Indian fiction. The novel has steadily grown over the years.

The novel has implications which reach far beyond the little village on the frontier between India and Pakistan, where its action takes place. It is the summer of 1947. The frontier has become a scene of rioting and bloodshed. But in the village, where Sikhs and Muslims have always lived peaceably together, Partition does not yet mean much. Life is regulated by the trains which rattle across the nearby river bridge. Then a local money-lender is murdered. Suspicion falls upon Juggut Singh – the village gangster who, when not in jail, is carrying on a clandestine affair with a Muslim girl. A Western educated Communist agent is also involved. A train comes over the bridge at an unusual time and the villagers discover that it is full of dead Sikhs. Some days later the same thing happens again. The village becomes a battlefield of conflicting loyalties, and neither Magistrate nor police can stem the rising tide of violence. It is left to Juggut Singh to redeem himself by saving many Muslim lives in a stirring climax.

Train to Pakistan, with its fine descriptions of village and river, and its study of characters under stress, is an exciting novel, both intellectually and emotionally. Khushwant Singh makes his readers share the individual problems of loyalty and responsibility facing the principal figures in his story, and to understand the human implications of a momentous historical event.


Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan is a famous book like Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (which I have not been able to finish, by the way, despite three attempts) or Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (which I found underwhelming). I don’t know what it is about these widely acclaimed books, most of the time they are weighed down by the baggage of their fame and end up underwhelming. So, I was apprehensive. 

I have read two more books on Partitions – Ice-Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa and Partitions by Amit Majumdar. And I have liked both of them. That time in history evokes immense curiosity among people from this subcontinent. It is hard to believe, today, that something of such magnitude happened right here, in our country, not too long ago. We keep seeking such stories from our shared history to make sense of such an event that left millions of people killed, orphaned, raped or displaced. How could people like us do this to their fellow countrymen, even close friends?

Train to Pakistan attempts to explain perhaps that incredulity in us. How could this happen? Mano Majara is a fictitious village populated with Muslims and Sikhs predominantly (with only one Hindu family), who live in harmony. In a short book of 200 pages, much space has been dedicated to the life in this village, and not too much on individual characters. When the country is going through the turmoil of partitions and its after-effects; this quaint little village remains unaffected, even surprised at the turn of events. It is difficult for them to fathom how people from the same village could turn hostile towards each other when they should have fought for their friends, so what if they belonged to a different community.

But that is only till real tragedy hits them. The arrival of a train full of corpses acts as a catalyst, and people could not remain unaffected for too long and turned murderous with little instigation because they are only human. 

The village is the central character in this book, all other characters play secondary roles. Though I am a reader who usually seeks identifiable characters, I still liked this book. Khushwant Singh’s writing is no doubt the best thing about it. If you would ask me, if this book is one of those must-reads; I would say – No! But if you appreciate good writing and if that thrills you as a reader; then sure.

Here are a few lines often quoted from the book:

“India is constipated with a lot of humbug. Take religion. For the Hindu, it means little besides caste and cow-protection. For the Muslim, circumcision and kosher meat. For the Sikh, long hair and hatred of the Muslim. For the Christian, Hinduism with a sola topee. For the Parsi, fire-worship and feeding vultures. Ethics, which should be the kernel of a religious code, has been carefully removed.”

Read more quotes from the book here.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Goals for 2017

Whenever I drop in here, I am filled with nostalgia (as also happens with my other blog). It’s a pity that I haven’t written about any books in a long while. But this year I want to change that.

  1. I want to read at least 35 books this year and review all of them. So, I’m targeting about 3 books in a month. 
  2. I want to review at least 24 children’s books; also since over the last 5 years, I have read some amazing children’s books.
New Year is always an exciting time for me. I love making plans, creating new goals for the year. I love the anticipation, the positivity, the hope that a New Year brings. It is just an opportunity to start over. Forget the past. Look ahead!