book review

Jai’s Assorted Tales : A review

EBook title : Jai’s Assorted Tales

Author : Sitharaam Jayakumar

Pages : 102

I always love to support new, promising writers and Sitharaam is one of them. His writing journey mirrors mine when he says that he started writing his blog a few years back while working in the corporate sector.

These are nice, short stories which will surely regale you. 

The Section 1 which is in the Horror/Thriller category is the best part of the book. What especially grabbed my attention, is the subtle twist in the tale at the end. 

Played for a sucker and An Unspoiled Girl, are my favourites, precisely for that reason.

However, having same names of protagonists in consecutive stories which are not related to each other, might cause confusion in the mind. 

The other stories in this section are also good.

Section 2 is Science Fiction / Humour. In this, the protagonists names like Captain Haddock, Din Din and Professor Candyfloss Calculus will trigger some pleasant childhood memories.

Section 3 is Science Fiction / Public Welfare, Section 4 is Science Fiction / Miscellaneous and Section 5 is General, which have some thought provoking stories.

This is the author’s fourth book and is good for some light reading. Some of the stories in this book can be developed further into bigger short stories by the Author, especially from Section 1. Thriller/Horror seems to be a genre which is the Author’s strong point.

Other Books by  Sitharaam Jayakumar –

Eighty  Hours To Save  Karen 

The Krishnapur  Kidnappings 

A  To  Z  Of  Men  And  Women  Who  Excelled  In Sports

book review, Uncategorized

Can we change?

One of my friends, Priyadarshan Shete says, “When progess of the nation is equated with quantum of cars sold, factories running at 100% capacity etc nothing better should be expected.”

This set me thinking, that yes, the progress of a nation is always the number of cars sold, factories running day and night to produce products which might or might not really be the essentials of life.

So if any positive change is to be seen, what parameters will be important to measure a country’s progress. Can we move from consumption driven economy to a sustainable economy? 

Here are a few parameters –

 

  1. Organic farming – it is being practiced but in pockets. Can efforts be made to make it more prevalent and popular? How can we replace chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers like compost manure or green manure? In such farming it is very important to follow the practice of crop rotation and companion planting. 

Crop rotation – it is a practice for growing different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. In this case the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. This reduces soil erosion and increases crop yield. While companion planting is growing different kinds of crops in close proximity which results in increase in crop productivity.

I feel, the above two practices in agriculture can go a long way in rolling back the damage due to the usage of chemical fertilizers.

2.Going further, it will be more important to strengthen the medical field, yes, maybe more than the military. How many hospitals per 1000 citizens will be and should be a very important parameter.

3. Agriculture itself should replace manufacturing industry as an essential field for measuring a country’s progress. Number of hectares under productive cultivation should be more important than the numbers of any non-essential product produced.

 4.Since man needs cars and trucks for personal and goods transportation, these have to be produced. But we will need to fast track the electric transportation to reduce dependence on crude oil. In turn this will reduce air pollution. 

5. Eliminate the torture of animals and birds. This is one of the tasks requiring lots of planning and different methods of implementation as a huge lot of humans eat them for sustenance. The biggest culprit has been converting it into an industry where the animals and birds are treated in the most obnoxious manner.

6  Same is the case with the dairy industry. In both these cases, it was the need for fast availability and huge quantities, that drove both industries to this blatant exploitation. Both these should never have been an industry, but no one is ready to wait patiently for their piece of pie.

7.Make poaching a non-bailable offence with the strictest punishment. Why should somebody’s body part become your accessory or aphrodisiac?

8. And there might be many such steps which can be taken to make Earth liveable again.

But will anyone pay attention to this once the present danger diminishes. I am no expert but a common layman and most would just laugh this off.

However I have no doubt that whoever takes the leadership position to change the world for the better will be the leader of the future.

Yatindra Tawde

 

Uncategorized

Will we go back on repeat mode?

Today, we wish there were more doctors, more hospitals, more nurses and ward boys and other health workers. We search desparately for vegetable and fruit vendors and those small grocery stores in our neighborhood. We are happy when we see the cleanliness workers come daily. When we see the police we feel safe.

Today, we are not bothered which filmstar’s movie is held up, we are not bothered what exercise they are doing at home, neither are we bothered that the sportsmen are sitting at home.

We are not bothered whether the malls, with their expensive shops, are open or not.

We can manage with our current mobile, we don’t look forward to the newest model to buy and flaunt.

We see that the Indian industries are being philanthropic and really looking to contribute to the nation whereas the international brands, which we swore by, are nowhere to be seen and are waiting it out, waiting for the day when Indian citizens can again loosen their pursestrings.

Though we were the reason for many the animals and birds getting extinct, today when we see some of them reclaiming their space in the cities and towns, we feel most excited.

We wake up to clean skies and clear air and appreciate the ability of Mother Earth to rejuvenate herself.

However, once this passes, will we forget all these things and go back to being as foolish as before and start doing the same things over again.

I think that’s what we will do.

What do you think, friends?

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Uncategorized

Eggomania

Any and every reason is enough for couples to go their separate ways. Many times, it is either of those MIL’s who trigger the domestic warfare. Other times, it is their own egos; they will have their own disparate dreams.

Sometimes, the husband would be an abusive, possessive personality trying to subdue his wife while other times, the wife would be a conniving, gold digger.

But many times, a divorce is a mature decision reached by two adults, who no longer find that elusive spark in their relationship, or whose passion has fizzled out.

Then there are those who separate for the flimsiest of the reasons.

Some couples are just not destined to stay together just like the couple which was in the papers recently.

Here’s the story…

Mangala was a foodie in her childhood. But both her working parents were of simple means. While father worked as a cleaner on long distance trucks, mother was a maid in the high-rise nearby.

Father would be at home only once every fifteen days but he doted on his child. Mangala would be very excited when her father came home, as he was sure to bring those bright, white eggs which she loved to eat. Eating them, either in their boiled, salted form or as a scrambled omelette, she was hooked on them.

Thus the years went by and she reached the marriageable age. And soon she was married off to Mangaldas, a daily wage plumber from the nearby shanty.

Soon, the first flush of arranged romance wore off and the challenges of daily grind stared at them. It helped that Mangaldas was miserly and a teetotaller with a mature head on his shoulders.

But being stingy had its disadvantages, especially for Mangala.

All varieties of vegetables were welcomed in the house but whenever she bought eggs, Mangaldas flared up. “Why do you insist on eating so many eggs every alternate day. Do you know how I toil to make ends meet; to put food on the table? And you waste everything on these eggs! That too, daily! If you want to stay in my house, these eggs will not enter.”

Poor Mangala. What was she to do? Her father had made her fall in love with eggs and then made her marry an egg hater. How her fate had turned!

So she wallowed in self pity, but not for long. One day, the egg seller Mangal, from the street corner, came home with half a dozen eggs.

“Bhabhiji, you did not come for many days for the eggs. I was wondering what happened so I thought, why not the egg seller go to the customer?”, asked Mangal slyly, as his eyes wandered over her comely figure, a smile plastered on his face.

“Oh, so sweet of you to do that. But, alas! My husband won’t allow that.” So saying, Mangala pushed back his hands which held the eggs, to refuse them.

“Oh, don’t worry. You eat them now while he is not at home”, and as he said this, he pushed the eggs into her hand, while brushing his arm against her waist.

Mangala wasn’t sure what was more enticing; the eggs in her hands or his hairy arm against her waist and she yielded unknowingly. Thereafter, they both had their fill of their eggs, which they yearned for.

This became a regular feature when they exchanged eggs every afternoon in the absence of Mangaldas.

Mangaldas was suspicious of some kitchen shenanigans as it smelled of eggs every other day but there was no outgo from his purse, surprisingly.

But one day, when he came home Mangala was missing and when she did not turn up even after a few hours, he was worried. As he searched in the neighborhood he did not notice the curious absence of a certain egg seller at the street corner.

When a worried and hungry Mangaldas returned home, he espied a neatly folded paper on the cot.

“I love eggs. But you never let me have them. I have found someone who enjoys providing me with the eggs and is not stingy like you. So alvida. We have opened our own poultry farm in the countryside. Don’t search for me and don’t follow me…”

Mangaldas collapsed on the cot, stunned.

book review

Hiraeth – A book review

The first image that captures your attention is the apt artistic rendition of the message the author wants to convey. The tree symbolises the Indian subcontinent, rooted in the same culture but the ripped apart into two countries by a sudden cataclysmic event.

As you read the stories, you are drawn into the lives of ordinary human beings, pushed into facing sudden extraordinary circumstances.

If there are obnoxiously creepy individuals, trying to take undue advantage of unfortunate situations, there are people who have not lost their humanity in the face of the difficult times.

If there are people who lost their sanity, there are individuals who clung to some hope even in those trying times.

But finally these are heart rending stories of the common man whose destiny was so mercilessly turned upside down by fickle politicians looking for their self-aggrandizement.

As you read the stories, you cannot but admire the high level of research, the author, Dr. Shivani Salil, must have undertaken to meet such affected individuals and families who were caught in the turmoil of that unfortunate event of partition of a great country on the basis of religion.

I recommend this book for all those who were far removed from this page of history, especially the young generation which is separated by the many decades of freedom.

Yatindra Tawde

book review, Uncategorized

Driftwood – A book review

If you have lived at sea you will immediately identify the trials and tribulations a Seaman goes through, which the author captures so well. And even if you have not, you are bound to admire the word play and the impeccable story telling skills of a master story teller.

In this paperback of 12 stories, my top 3 are “Sapphire Blue”, “Transition” and “Stairway to Heaven” and the others follow close behind. There is something in them for all types of readers, those who love reading adventure or romance or intrigue.

From the very first story, “The Piano Man”, the author takes you on a rollercoaster ride and believe me, the book is unputdownable.

Even though the stories are not connected to each other, a common thread runs through it. The Sea is the real hero and the human working on that wide expanse of water, is but a slave of sentiment, lust, greed or plain love, who is trying to make the best out of the given circumstances.

So readers, go for this cruise on the seas with the Captain, the author of this gem.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Uncategorized

And then they were divorced…

They were proud citizens of a city in Madhya Bharat. At quite a young age they were married off with a chanting of mantras in a huge ceremony, and with a prayer on the lips.

The next two months passed in bliss… for them. Their honeymoon period was hardly over, when those who had married them off, were back to interfere in their lives, this time to divorce them.

They were never asked when they were married off and now they were being divorced without their consent.

After marriage they lived quite peacefully in their own little pond which they shared with the others, going about their croaking and breeding duties with a gutso.

The other denizens were envious of the star couple in their midst and kept a few feet away. Maybe they feared them, as the couple had friends in those sky touching dwellings…or so they thought. Afterall, the match was brought about by these very friends in a huge ceremony accompanied by a lot of cacophony. Cymbals, dhols and assorted musical instruments played their parts well.

Two months back…

Half of June was over and the clouds had not yet made an deappearance. The hot and humid April and May had completely depleted the water stocks and the people were worried.

While there are a lot of global factors which affect the arrival of the life giving rains, the people feel or hope that they can somehow persuade them to shower their manna.

So they went to the town Swamiji who suggested to marry off frogs to please the rain God. And so our couple was married off with much geity.

And was he pleased!

Two months later the same people were more worried, this time due to incessant rains and unforgiving, unprecedented floods. In two months they were brought to their knees. So off they scurried, back to the Swamiji.

It seems Swamiji was waiting for this very opportunity. The two frogs, whom he had married off two months back, had made his life difficult, what with their synchronised croaking followed by a chorus of their ilk.

He issued his orders; for the rains to stop there was no other option but to divorce the frogs who had been married off just two months back.

So another elaborate ceremony was conducted, mantras chanted and the frogs were mercilessly separated.

My learning from this episode – there are mantras for conducting divorces too!

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Uncategorized

Yay! They are useful…

In your childhood you indulged in them shamelessly and obnoxiously, without a care in the world. Some naughty friends held competitions; who managed it the loudest.

As you grew older you learnt to hold them in, as society pressure overwhelmed all other pressures of the internal kind. However you weren’t always successfu, as they found escape velocity. If they didn’t make a noise, they announced themselves with a degree of pungency, leaving you with no place to hide.

If there were more than two people in the room, at least you could put it on the next person. But all suffered equally though the originator suffered the least. Because he knew where it came from.

The generator was always ridiculed and the habitual one was derided and scorned at. The only safe place was his home, and the better half complained futilely. She had to bear the brunt of a few smelly, loud ones.

But guys, you no longer need to hide. Because research has proven that farts are good for your health. Now you can proudly do the needful as they help avoid cell inflammation making them live longer.

Hydrogen sulphide, that foul smelling fart gas, is naturally produced in the body, which could be a healthcare hero having significant implications in future therapies for a variety of diseases; or so says the research.

Of course, farts don’t cure cancer but are certainly good for your overall health.

So the next time, the wife complains, let her know this secret of your long, smelly life.

Which proves that, not all research is useless. Sometimes it does throw up some funny, loud and smelly surprises. (But who thought of doing this study in the first place…)

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Travel, Uncategorized

The ST Bus

If you are living in Maharashtra, you must surely have travelled by a ST bus. And if you have not, then you have missed an experience.

For the uninitiated, ST bus is the State Transport bus. It is the lifeline of Maharashtra, especially for the large population residing in villages. The people lovingly refer to it as ‘lal dabba’ which translates into English as the ‘Red Box’. It is so named because it is literally a travelling box on wheels.

Many of you will remember the tin boxes which you carried to school, especially in the primary division. It used to hold the books, pencils, rulers, tiffin boxes and many other things. And at the start and end of school timings and during the recesses, the boxes of all the students used to make a great racket.

When the ST bus travels, it too makes a similar racket. This racket is caused by the assortment of metal trunks and other luggage of the passengers and by the passengers themselves who want to make themselves heard over the great racket. Above all , all the nuts and bolts which hold up the bus, make a big noise since the buses vibrate while travelling.

It seems these buses are manufactured by an ancient bus manufacturer, who has been bypassed by all the advances made in the field of bus body assemblies. After all no other buses vibrate as much.

And these buses have their moods…

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They will be taking you to your destination, your are trying to grab a few winks in all the cacophony, when suddenly the bus coughs and splutters and with a few jerks, comes to a halt in the middle of the road. And no amount of cajoling by the bus driver and the conductor is enough to make it go again.

As the bored passengers get down from the bus to stretch their legs or to answer nature’s call, the bus driver goes below the bus, with assortment of tools, with the conductor at his constant beck and call. Finally the driver gives up and emerges from the bowels of the bus, quite dejectedly.

In the meanwhile some of the passengers have managed to get lifts from private vehicles and goods trucks while some have decided not to give up on the resting bus. This attitude of the passengers, is what the bus likes and its mood changes for the better.

As soon as the driver decides to give it a one final try, the bus starts after a few false starts. With a great victory cry from the remaining passengers of ‘har har mahadev’ and ‘Ganpati bappa Mourya’ as they board , the bus is motivated to take them to their destination.

Now you will appreciate that I was very surprised to read in the papers that the ST Mahahmandal have decided to provide free wi-fi in these very buses. And the following images flashed before my eyes…

People have lined up in the ST stand for boarding the bus along with their assorted luggage, awaiting the bus to come inside the stand. Like always, their luggage consists of metal trunks, some carry pickle jars very delicately, some are holding long bamboo brooms made in their village, some holding their infants who have the propensity to emit ear piercing cries, while some are students who are going back to their colleges in the city after completing their vacations in their villages.

But most of them have one thing in common, they are all carrying their precious smartphones. After all they are very eager to use the newly provided wi-fi inside the bus.

Finally the bus arrives, the passengers rush to their seats inside . As they settle down in their seats they await for the bus to start. But more than that they await the passwords for wi-fi usage.

Already some are fiddling with their phones , they can see the wi-fi available but wait for the password is killing. You will never see a more silent ST bus, since no one, no longer wants to make small talk with their neighbours neither do they want to shout out to their friends sitting a few seats away.

They are not interested looking out of the window, neither are they bent on grabbing a few winks.

Then the moment arrives, the conductor distributes the scratch cards having the passwords to all those who ask for it.

And that’s it!

Those who take the scratch cards, they stop living in the present. Someone starts communicating with his office on office mail, trying to do his pending work so that he is not overly burdened when he finally rejoins office. A boy in the corner seat is trying to download the latest songs on his smartphone whereas another one is watching his favourite movie. A girl on the first seat is engrossed in chatting with her friends on social media all the while ignoring her best friend sitting beside her in the bus.

While the wi-fi users are happy, it has certainly mellowed down the environment inside the ST bus, which has always been known for its boisterous passengers.

But are we being over optimistic here. Maybe the wi-fi will not work. After all, a few years back, there was great talk of CCTV cameras being installed in public spaces. Now we know that most of them are mere non-working dabbas.

And the ST buses will continue to carry their boisterous denizens to their destinations across the state.

Yatindra Tawde