Sunday, September 30, 2012

A mail from an author

I was delighted to receive this mail in my inbox today morning. I had left the link of my  previous post (book review) on Ashwin Sanghi's  website.  The krishna key's  author  mailed to me back and this is what i received in return. Thank you, Ashwin Sanghi. This one to one connection with your readers,  I'm sure will take you very far. Awaiting to see you receive the Booker prize.

This is the mail i wrote to him.

Hi Mr. Sanghi,

Amazed at the way you have weaved the tale of ' the krishna key'. Your research and  work on the book is commendable and hope you write many more such books. Incidentally, this is the first book of yours that i have read. The beautiful historical and mythological facts in this books tempts me to pick up your second book chanakyas chant. My review of this book is here.

Thank you,


Dear Asha,

Thank you for writing to me with your very kind comments as well as
your detailed book review. The greatest reward for an author is to
receive appreciation from readers :) It makes the entire effort of
spending years writing a book seem worthwhile.

I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed reading The Krishna Key. It
has always been my effort to bring our rich historical and cultural
heritage to the forefront and comments from readers like you reinforce
my commitment to do so even in the future.

Once again, many thanks for your email. You have my sincere gratitude.

With every good wish,

Ashwin Sanghi

Thank you Ashwin Sanghi, i am touched and warmly reciprocate.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ashwin Sanghi's The Krishna key


When  I received this book for review, I thought I did a mistake of picking up a thriller for  I am no fan of thrillers or mysteries. Despite some dampeners, this book kept me hooked  because of the historical and mythological data. That  I prioritized the book amidst a tight personal  & professional schedule shows how engrossed i was with the book last week.  I must also admit that the book which raced through some places was a drag at many places and broke at the end. No wonder, the author asks us not to flip to the end since this will act as a plot spoiler. Nevertheless, a fascinating book.

 India's youngest Linguist and symbolist Anil Varshney  bids for an antique base plate of Raja Man Singh  in Sotheby's  auction and wins the bid. This base plate has grooves for 4 antique seals. The assembling of these seals found at the various ancient excavation sites of India like Kalibangan, Kurukshetra, Dwarka and mathura when fixed  on the auctioned base plate gives way to 'The Krishna key'. This key exposes  an ancient secret  which is Lord Krishna's  precious legacy to mankind. This book also makes you feel that Lord Krishna is not a myth and a reality.

Now, over to the story.  Anil tries to place these seals in the safe custody of 4 of his close friends just in case anything happens to him. So he entrusts the seals to  his friends who are all doctorates in Nuclear science, life science, History and an off shore explorer. The professor in Mythological history  Ravi Mohan  Saini is the protagonist  who meets Anil Varshney before he was killed by a person named Taarak Vakil.  Before getting killed , Anil leaves a  seal and a cryptic message  to Ravi Saini. This message  helps him to piece together the four seals on the auctioned base plate which is safely locked in a safe deposit locker.

Anil Varshney is killed with a scalpel and the murderer marks a shloka on the wall with the blood. Ravi mohan Saini is suspected as the killer since he was the last one to visit Anil. Ravi mohan Saini flees the police custody along with his beautiful doctoral student Priya Ratnani. Priya's father Sanjay Ratnani a lawyer helps fight the case of Ravi Saini and is also instrumental in the escape of Ravi and Priya.

From here on begins the race to trace the three seals. The duo try to meet the remaining friends by dodging the police as they travel to  Dwarka, Porbandar and  Somnath and from here on he splits with Priya. The story takes a twist here  and Ravi travels to  Mount Kailash and finally ends up at Agra's Taj mahal where he finds the answer to Krishna's key.

 The above is the brief of the book which has each chapter beginning with the first person narration of Lord Krishna himself  from his life to death and then correlated to the contemporary story line.

What i liked about the book was the exhaustive research done by Ashwin Sanghi. The list of references and acknowledgements behind the book shows the amount of work Sanghi has put into the book. I am tempted to read all those books because of my fascination for Indian history, mythology and heritage.

Many historical and mythological facts backed with scientific reasoning gives you goose bumps and makes you feel blessed that you belong to a proud race - the Indian race.  I have always believed our ancestors were a treasure house of information and pioneers in many fields. If the theories and data of this book are authentic then this book has some fascinating facts like much before Oppenheimer, Newton,Einstein, Big bang theory our ancestors like the yogis  knew about the theory of relativity, dispersion of light, levitation, atomic energy, nuclear energy etc. It was a revelation  to read about the architecture of Taj mahal which was originally supposed to be Raja Man singh's palace. These were the reasons I held on to the book.

Otherwise, i found the book describing too many killings and many of the character sketches  like Taarak vakil, Sir Khan and too many sanskrit shlokas  etc overly done.

Also, for the amount of research Sanghi has done, he could have proof checked the book with the same zeal. I myself could find two glitches, one is on page 301 where the last para should begin with  Radhika and not Priya. and on page 389 where it should read Saini and Radhika( not priya and Radhika)

It was definitely a good read for me but the tempo petered at many places. What held me to the book was the fascinating  historical , mythological  and the scientific explanation of our culture.

Ashwin sanghi is the author of the best selling Rozabal line and award winning Chanakya's chant. Chanakya's chant - a political thriller  is now on the way to be a movie. Ashwin  is a Yale graduate and is an entrepreneur by profession but writing historical fiction in thriller genre is his passion and hobby.


                                                   The Krishna Key
                                                   Ashwin Sanghi
                                         Published by Westland limited
                                                          INR 250  

This review is a part of the  Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My first online shopping experience - memorable and special

We as a family enjoy shopping. For us shopping has been an exploration, education and an experience . When my children were small,  we took them to supermarkets to expose them to those exotic fruits and vegetables rather than through those hard bound colored  books.

 And  even now they get educated through the various open air traditional markets, craft fairs,  and glitzy malls. These shopping experiences have exposed them to the various cultures at crafts fair, various people at the traditional markets. They have seen smart little children(shop keepers) handling the customers at the traditional markets.

I believe  the product range in the super  markets help them to make judgement while buying a product and the children  exposed to the many advertisements( mostly aimed at them including the income tax ad which asks children to ensure if their parents have paid their taxes) are able to apply their minds and have become decision makers in many  families.The  exposure to the open air kitchens at the superstore like Ruci and Idoni, Nature basket and the counters of Master chef Australia have inspired them to be junior chefs today.

At home, they are the ones who check the product list  and cross check the rates when ever we are back from the supermarket.  So shopping for us is a learning experience and we as a family have always enjoyed it( expensive at times). Many a times window shopping through these malls helps us to study the features of the new products in the competitive  market too.

Apart from the above markets, we now have an other option the various online shopping sites. Though my husband has bought many electronic gadgets and books through  online shopping, I was never comfortable with e-shopping.

But it happened soon when i got an e-voucher to exchange it for a product on flipkart. It was very special and memorable  since  this e-voucher  came through my blog  and introduced me to online shopping.

It all happened when Karthik Vijayakumar of left a comment on my blog asking me to write a few articles. I was very glad to share my experiences of my birth town on this site. I never expected anything in return, neither did he offer. But it was a surprise  when Karthik sent me a flipkart e-voucher last December.

And  my first online shopping experience happened . I browsed through the flipkart shop and clicked on the handblender which was evading me since long. My sleek uncluttered kitchen has many  kitchen gadgets modern and traditional. one gadget which i wanted to own since long was the kitchen hand blender and a little sil batta(grinding stone) but never felt the need for this. The whipper in my mixer did its job.  But this time, i  bought my dream gadget  and so this Kitchen hand blender came through my blog and flipkart.  I clicked on the product, entered the e-voucher number, address details and the second day it was delivered to my home. As simple as that.

And recently, we shopped online for a physics text book. My daughter's NCERT Physics text was unavailable for more than 45 days in the various NCERT book shops of the city and the booksellers had no clue when the stocks would arrive.  Her unit tests were to begin in school. We immediately booked it online  and got the books in 2 days time from Today, I enjoy shopping online too. I don't generally shop for mass produced items which we get in malls especially home decor and dresses. It is a pleasure to buy those hand crafted, exclusive items on special online craft and furnishing stores.

So along with the many forms of shopping, i have also comfortably added online shopping to my cart now and thanks to my blog.

This post exclusively for blogadda's contestt  "My most memorable online shopping experience" sponsored by

Friday, September 14, 2012

A tiny dose of culture, a little temple,a short travel tale and a mini collection.

We were driving past the old Begumpet airport in Hyderabad. This is one of the busiest roads in Hyderabad where we have bumper to bumper traffic during peak hours and racing cars at other times but busy anytime of the day. When our car was idling in the traffic, a hoarding  caught my attention near lifestyle store.

The advertisement issued in public interest  by greater Hyderabad traffic police was aimed at motorists to wear helmets. It   had  Lord  ganesha holding an helmet and warning as below.

                                 (the above photo is from a social network)

I found the advertisement very educative, innovative and it also brought a smile on my face seeing Ganeshji standing beside a bike with a helmet in the hand. I suddenly, recalled I visited a place in the Thanjavur region long back, where I visited a unique Ganesh ji temple in the Thanjavur region of Tamilnadu. Thought of sharing this journey here.

One of my favorite travel routes is the Thanjavur – trichy belt in Southern Tamilnadu. This district is unique for its agricultural activities since it lies in the deltaic region of the famous River Cauvery. The numerous criss crossed canals and the rivers  tributaries which meander around the little villages having emerald green fields(during winter) is a sight to behold. These rivers which irrigate the fertile land give rise to many agricultural lands and so the traditional occupation here is agriculture. These lands yield bountiful crops giving this place the  name “ Granary  of south india”. This place was the cradle of tamil culture , literature and civilization and many rare historical books in the ancient Saraswathi Mahal library in Thanjavur further authenticate this fact.  Despite many invasions and other political turmoils the art, architecture and culture has not suffered much destruction. The people of the Cauvery basin region like Trichy, Thanjavur   are supposed to be connoisseurs of art, craft, literature, cuisine and even communication(talking smartly) etc.,All these are attributed to the waterr of river Cauvery. Most of the development in this region is owed to the Chola kings. Chola bronze art today fetches a huge value in the international market.

Do you get the drift, Why am I describing this region and praising the people so much? 

Hehehehe....yes, me by origins both from paternal, maternal and marital side belong to this place . Originally my ancestors belong to this region.

So ,this is one of my favorite travel routes. I  have’n t visited these places much  in my childhood except for a few occasional visits to my aunts place. So,  we love connecting our children to these places, whenever opportunity arises. And these opportunities arise often since my husband’s uncle place(Neyveli) and his grandparents place(Lalgudi) are close to this region. Most areas in this region is rich in ancient history and so it becomes a historical tour for my children and they easily connect to it. The river banks are also  home to many temple village. These temples are ancient and some predate to thousands of years like the Brihadeeswarar temple. ( World heritage site). You don't have to be religious to visit these ancient temples. But do visit one of them anywhere and you will feel the   powerful mystical cosmic  power. The idols in ancient temple built according to agama shastra are said to have esoteric power due to lot of chantings  than the newly constructed designer temples.

 Travelling through these villages in a car  is very difficult  since most of these are narrow,dusty and muddy roads, but you will discover the fun of a peaceful and tranquil rural life from every small daily happening of the locals . A real treat for  urban souls like us used to the glistening malls, bumper to bumper traffic and  living in concrete jungle drenched with neon lights.

 You have to take a sturdy amby or sumo for these roads which are called “otthai adi padhai” in tamil meaning one way lanes.  We had   real fun once when we navigated through these muddy  roads .The villagers scatter their harvested paddy  bounties so that the cars pass through the paddy and gets threshed.  We visited  many places each of which is rich in ancient history and deserves a post from me.  Not all villages are so backward, in fact when I passed through a village called Mudikondan I found people in agraharams( quarter around the temple)  speaking in impeccable english  although wearing the typical tamil costume of madisar sari(draped like the maharashtrian navsari) and the dhoti clad men. Most of who are retired judges and have held senior positions have made their native as the base for retirement our uncle told.

During one of our visits, we  passively helped the local villagers by threshing those paddy harvest by driving past those and after  manoevuring those roads fit for rally drivers we reached a place called Thilatharpana puri.

As the name suggests in Sanskrit 'Til' is gingelly, tharpana is the hindu ritual of offering respects to the departed souls and puri is city. Lord Rama is supposed to have offered respects to his father and hence this place is called Thilatharpana puri. The native story goes that Lord Ram offered his respects to his departed father here. Lord Dasharatha is supposed to have attained salvation(mukti) because of this. Hence, the main deity in the temple of Thilatharpana puri is called Muktheeswarar and his consort is called Sornavalli. It was a sleepy temple with not much activity around but every stone and wall had the stamp of antiquity.  When we came out of the temple precints,  we found a small temple dedicated to the scribe of Mahabharatha – Ganeshji. I would have overlooked him, if not for the name  Aadi(first in tamil) vinayagar written  in Tamil.

Immediately, we called a local to ascertain if it was ganeshji and why he had a human face.  The locals told it was the idol of Lord Ganesha in the human form much before he got his replacement of the elephant head. Also, called Nara Ganapathi. Not many people are aware of this temple and until we reached here neither were we aware of this temple.  Nothing much is known either about this temple.Wish historians like William Dalrymple travelled this route to find the hidden history here.Sometimes i feel foreigners are the ones who are more interested in our history and tell us how rich and glorious our past is. 

                                             (Photo courtesy: Google image)

There are very few temples with Ganeshji having a human face. This is one of the them.  There are many beautiful and ancient temples around here. Till then, I was used to seeing Ganesha in traditonal form and sometimes as a sports man, musician and other avatars with his elephantine head . For the first time, I got to see the Lord with a human face.Many of you know the story how he got his elephant head, for those who don't know. You can read it here.

 I love collecting his idols  and among my many unique ones are where he is the scribe of mahabharatha in  Sage Vyasa's hermitage, a traditional standing ganesha ,a ganesha walking under an umbrella and another 1/2 cm coral Ganesha and a wooden Ganesha festoon.

The middle shelf has a kondapalli creation ganesha as a scribe and the papier mache walking ganeshji with an umbrella is outside.
 I'm looking for a pretty big reclining ganesha in papier mache now to adorn my beauty wall between my drawing and dining hall. Something like the one you see below.

The above one which awaits polishing is a redsanders Ganeshji costing 60,000INR at shilparamam. My search is on for a economical one in papier mache. Hope to pick it up at any crafts village soon.

My other posts on Ganeshji are here and here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

That's an arduous journey, ISRO. Congratulations!!

 During their initial days when infrastructure was not available they have made use of cycles to ferry their rockets. They converted a church into control room, the bishop’s house as office, a bicycle to ferry rockets and naked eyes to track the smoke plume at Thumba in Kerala.  They even converted a Toilet into a data receiving centre for their first satellite aryabhata at Bangalore.

The Indian space odyssey has come a long way to launching lunar probes, working on a mars mission and ferrying foreign satellites up for a fee. Today they have successfully launched their 100th mission.

I am extremely proud to have designed some of their outsourced  onboard double layered PCB's(between 92-94) for  ISTRAC, SAC and VSSC. 

That's an arduous journey, ISRO.  Two thumbs up to your space odyssey and Congratulations on the milestone.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Memories of my good friend's birthday

  The air in my city  is getting festive. We are just out of the Ramzan festivities and now we are gearing up for the socio cultural and religious Ganesh Utsav.  The huge eco friendly ganesha are being booked by the various associations. The ganesh Utsav committee is involved in gathering the children and elders for its various cultural programs. Money is being collected in hundis for this public funded utsavs. All the Indian cities and villages, I’m sure is gearing to welcome the first god of hindu pantheon,  Ganeshji.  A practicing hindu’s  good  friend and guide. 

Undisputably one of the  friendly gods whom you can mould into a cricketer, chessplayer, soccer player,  drummer, guitarist and into many avatars now even holding an apple product. So flexible that he is now in the form of stuffed toy and even   Mcganesh( imitating McDonald's  Ronaldo's pose).  He needs no palatial temple to house him,and can simply be found around the bend of the road on a raised pedestal, or any traffic island, or under any tree or any of the junction of three roads.He throws no fuss and is very adaptable ,adjusting, a  confidante, a giver and much more.

I too am excited with the festive air for  he is one of my favorite god. My association with him dates back to those times when I was around  6  or 7  years . We then lived in a beautiful place here which was the quintessential Bangalore then. My house was surrounded by beautiful places  which are now brand names like Lalbagh west gate, The famous eat street Sajjan rao circle( featured in TLC and many food  shows like HOMP), the headquarters of the famous ready to eat  MTR (Mavalli tiffin room) and the famous traditional market Gandhi bazaar( again in  TLC).

I grew up here for a few years playing,  listening to and reading stories when things like TV were unheard of. Predominantly most of the stories were mythological and ACK. It was the IBH exhibition at Glass house in Lalbagh  which was just a walk from my house that introduced me to Ganeshji stories, the elephant headed god.  Appa bought me this ACK for just 2rs( now it cost rs 40) there and thus started the association and after reading the book, I was interested in reading ganesha stories and so he gradually became my special friend. Even today, i love to read Ganeshji stories in Tinkle and other books

The hopeless nostalgic person that I am, I fondly recollect the memories of those sepia toned  and simple times, when money was less but happiness was plenty. Choices  were few but  life was contented and uncomplicated, responsibilities were none but footloose and carefree days were abundant.

So one of those memories  is this special friend’s birthday  which  every year like in most homes we celebrated as Pillaiyar( the tamil name for Ganeshji)  chaturthi. We would source all the pooja items from the streets of  Gandhibazaar. Accompanied by appa and amma and my little sis we would shop on the streets of this traditional market nearby home.  

 At home, the wooden stool would be  decorated with small plaintain saplings and decorated with festoons and flowers. We then would install the clay idol of Ganesha(not the colored one) decorate him with beautiful wild flowers, serial lights, a toy umbrella called 'pillaiyar kudai'. The puja was  performed with variety of wild flowers and darbha grass by appa while amma made all the delicacies like kheer, vada.  Neivedyam(bhog) to god was the Kozhakattais(modaks), which amma would give  only when I made 108 thorpukaranams (sit ups). 

In the afternoon around 3.p.m , we would be dressed in our best and I and my friends would set out to see Ganesha’s in different house  in the neighbourhood and ask people "Aunty, ganesha ittidira" (  Meaning "Have you kept Ganesha?" kept in this context meant installed the idol) . People then were not apprehensive to open doors to strangers  and would gladly welcome us. We would then shout ‘Ganapathi ki jai” throw the turmeric coated raw rice(akshata)  taken with us , collect the 'sihi thindis'(sweets)  the various people gave us  and the little gifts like hairband, hair clip, bangles etc. Kannadigas also celebrate Ganapati’s mom the previous day called ‘Gowri habba’ which is essentially a ladies festival like karva chauth  hence gifts like bangles, clips etc. We would head home in content with all the goodies collection. The general idea is to see 108 ganeshas, but the main intention was the goodies. Perhaps, those days this was a form of socializing and knowing your neighbourhood.

We would  also be a participant in the  Ganesh utsav functions in the pandals close home. These  publicly funded  utsavs  served as a reason  to bring the spirit of unity and oneness among the neighbor hood residents. The cultural programs held in the evening served to showcase the talents of children and I too would sing in those ganesh utsavs. The famous song was of course” gajamukhane ganapathiiye ninage vandane…..”. 

 In many localities of Bangalore like Vijayanagar where I later shifted, these Ganesh utsavs in Bangalore would almost extend till  Kannada Rajyothsava  i.e November 1st which is the day Karnataka was formed .

Finally the immersion, there is no concept of immersion in my dad’s side and the ganesha would be kept in the puja room and the same ganesha would be used for 5 years but I would accompany my friend Sandhya’s house idol. Her father would walk with us up to Lalbagh, While she carried the Ganesha in thelittle  basket, I would ring the bell upto Lalbagh kere(lake). At lalbagh kere, there would be many clay figures lowered . some would arrive in customized trucks, some would come in handcarts. Tempos, cycles etc.,  The clay of the idol would get immersed  and form the silt. Now of course, there is a huge noise about pollution, those days we never used much of chemical dyes. 

Much has changed now. The fast emerging metro, the various underpass, flyovers  have gobbled up many landmark places. The lalbagh kere(lake)  has been acquired  or is slowly getting phased out by the metro development,  so is the traditional market of Gandhi bazaar. The junction road of Vanivilas and kanakapura road where I stayed  has become an underpass. Nothing seems to be at ground level now, everything is underground or flying high. Last time i travelled out of the city, my head was held high and eyes were only at the sky. So many buildings touching the sky line. All these have transformed the grounded  Garden city Bangalore to  an elevated world class global city called Bengaluru.  These places exist only in my memories.
Agreed change is inevitable and we have to move on in life. 

But.... but...., after all these one thing remains unchanged. The ganesh Utsav celebrations at Basavanagudi APS grounds and National college grounds . This is the 50th year. Just in case, you happen to be here and are a connoisseur of Good food and music, Be there. Enjoy the 'Aromas of Karnataka' a  food festival treating you to the traditional delicacies and this is also the venue Where you will hear to the greats like Ilayaraja, yesudas, Shankar Mahadevan, Sonu nigam, Shaan, Drums sivamani and Vijay Prakash this year.  And get blessed in one of the Best and oldest Ganesh Utsav pandals. For program schedule click here.

 Meanwhile, we are gearing up for the festivities here in our condominium. Hopefully, my next post will be on an unique temple of Ganesha, infact very very unique.

ETA: Just as i posted this, i hear the song "Give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, i want to grow up once again" from 3 idiots.  Aptly defines my mood for this post.