Monday, April 29, 2013

Saint to Satan

Title: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Hgashino
ISBN: 978-03-126006-8-6
Genre: Crime Fiction
Cost: INR 350/-
Pages: 377

Rating: 3.5/5

Some words before I can say something:

Ayane faced him again, taking a deep breath. “What about your love for me? Whatever happened to that?”
Yoshitaka flinched, then gradually his smile returned. “My love for you hasn’t changed a bit,” he said. “I can assure you of that. I do still love you.”
That was a complete lie, as far as Ayane was concerned. But she smiled and said that was good. She wasn’t sure how else to respond.
“Let’s go.” Yoshitaka stood and headed for the door.
Ayane glanced at her dresser, thinking about the white powder hidden in a sealed plastic bag in the bottommost drawer on the right.
Guess I’ll be using that soon, she thought, the last glimmer of hope fading beneath the shadow inside her."

A lot can happen over a cup of coffee it is said, after reading “Salvation of a Saint” I would love to add murder to the list. Set in modern Tokyo, “Salvation of  Saint” is Keigo Higashino’s 1st book I came across. Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi is the lead protagonist of this crime fiction and has the task of figuring out the killer of Yoshitaka Mashiba along with his team members Utsumi, Mamiya, Kishitani and detective Galileo Prof. Yukawa.
 The story starts with the couple Yoshitaka and Ayane contronting the truth that their marriage is in shambles within a year and by the time you flip through 30 pages you find Yoshitaka dead. The suspects initially turn out to be Hiromi Wakayama , Yoshitaka’s mistress and Ayane’s favorite apprentice and Ayane the sad shaken wife who was off to her parents when the husband was killed. Even though at that point the readers conveniently know who the killer is, the police force are in the dark and still have a lot of pieces of the puzzle to figure out. Kusanagi smitten by the saint is torn between reality, evidence, duty, mind and heart. It is interesting to go through the dilemma Yukawa goes through to finally unveil the face of the killer. There are times in the book where the interrogation takes a wrong turn and something inside you is dying to scream at the Tokyo police “You are looking at this all wrong”.
The book is a sure quick read and is gripping too cause till the very end the killer is enjoying her time of extended salvation. But unfortunately for lovers of thrillers and crime fiction, who have scanned through Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels like life and death crisis and remember almost every episode of ‘Castle’, knowing the killer right in the start is a big loophole that puts you in a realization mode half way through the story and you already know how the story might end.
It is definite page turner with use of very simple narrative and would appeal even the “not regular” readers.
Gripping as far as the investigation is concerned.
Character build up through the story, though not intended is good and you can connect to the characters well.
Biggest con would be, knowing who the killer is right at the establishment of the story.
Half way through the book the you have an 80-20 chance of figuring out the end.
Police getting smitten by a grieving widow was kind of a bollywood-ish plot to me.
Over all I would give the book a 3.5 but not a 4 on five because I really enjoyed the whole hill ride of the investigation. I still wish the author would have waited till the very end to let us know the saint was the satan, because revealing the murderer in the commencement of the book seemed unnecessary. But for people who love crime fiction this book is at least a “give it a try book”. And people who want to start reading crime fiction this would be a good start because it is simple fast and engrossing at the same time.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Ramp Braidy Hair

TRESemmé Ramp Ready, a campaign through the TRESemmé India Youtube channel where Diana Penty flaunts her beautiful salon style perfect hair and where we learn about various hairstyles hair types and how to care for them kind of pushed me in a chemistry lab for hair aka experimentation mode. Nope I am no robot, I am a homo sapien who is blessed with long *dont know if they are lusty* but kind of straight hair and I so love the product (guilty I use TRESemme climate control regularly). And thus my braid hair lessons began and my album for the perfect Ramp Ready Braidy hair.

     1.   The Waterfall Braid or khajur chotti - Cause simple is better and I am fixated with braids.
-          Divide your hair in four equal parts in the place you normally tie your pony.
-          Take the outer two halves and cross over the inner 2 halves one after the other.
-          Now the inner two halves become outer halves.
-          Cross them over the current inner 2 halves.
-          Continues the above steps till you feel like. J


          2   The Waterfall Twist – Simple, elegant and the most used French braid
-          -       Take a small strand of hair, from a side, that can be divided into 3 parts
-          Start making the normal plait by crossing over the 3 strands.
-          After every 2 set of crosses pull in a small strand of hair through the braid.
-          Continue till you reach the level of your normal pony tail and braid up the remaining hair or pin it and leave the rest open. Also you to take the entire hair to a side and braid it up if you have long hair.

     3.   Chinese Bun – for voluminous hair
      -      Brush up the upper part of your hair and divide it in two equal parts.
-          Curl up one part clockwise in the place you regularly tie your pony. Pin and secure it.
-          Curl up the other part anticlockwise around the first bun, pin and secure it.
      -      Leave the rest of the hair open and if you want u can pur decorative pins in the centre of the bun or use Chinese hair sticks to secure the bun.

1.    4. High Braidy Updo – extension to the Chinese bun
-          -           First make a Chinese bun
-          Divide the remaining hair in as many parts as you want and braid up every part.
-          Curl up every braid around the Chinese bun in alternating clockwise and anticlockwise fashion.
-      Secure and pin up, the updo stands


      5.  The Triple French Braid – Needs patience but makes your hair look voluminous.
-         -  Divide the hair in 3 equal parts.
      - Starting from the very top of a part take a small strand and brain up with just one cross over.
      -  Post the first cross take a small strand of hair from a side and add it to the middle strand of the braid. 
      - Cross over ones more and continue till the braid is done
      - Braid up all 3 parts similarly and in the end braid these 3 together to 
f    form a fat sturdy roundish braid.

I would have loved to try so many more braidy hairs but I had to have some mercy on my arms and so just showing what I would have added to my ramp ready album had I been a part robot part human. Hope you guys get psyched and go crazy with hairstyle like I did after looking at the torture my hair had to go through to satisfy my experimental steak. 

p.s. All pictures used are personal except for the last one...:)

Monday, April 22, 2013


It is about rising above the busy bivouac of life and finding peace and happiness easily anytime anywhere. Finding peace is supposed to be the easy part but anytime anywhere is always a challenge.  For me personally, happiness is in books, music and movies especially when I am travelling from one place to another. But carrying books is a burden, selecting which video to put initially is a pain and realizing you should have taken the other one *kill me* and worst of all listening to the same playlist kind of throws you in the dungeons of boredom after a certain days. But what if you had unlimited choices, and unlimited space to support your choice tantrums?

Rightly said “One is never happy with what he has, humans are the greediest of all creatures.”

But why be content if there is always scope for more. Escalate – my dream setup would pamper and bear all my (and people like me) tantrums and requirements with ease especially now that it has the perfect tool to please all “The Microsoft Office 365”.

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud version of the Microsoft Office suite with familiar programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But along with these there are other amazingly interesting services such as Lync (audio and video calls), SharePoint Online (teamwork), Exchange Online (e) and applications for creating websites that serves as the backbone of the business and keeping it up to date. It provides virtually anywhere and everywhere access to familiar Office tools, plus enterprise-grade email, conferencing, and more IT services. In all being a perfect tool in the business arena and gives business dreamers like me a cloud nine feeling of ‘success is not far’. It eases the complexity of maintaining databases. You can add as many song as you want whenever you feel like also share it in various groups. You can store and provide Movies and movie interfaces with reviews from many people and thus decrease the confusion of which movie to watch first. And my favorite part the e-books - store as many e-books as you want and access them when ever you want all you need is Office365 suite in the device you are using for access. Is it not a dream come true? 

But never the less its a business, so how does the business set up work?
A remote access server or cloud server built using the Microsoft Office 365 Website builder,  hosting this site "ESCALATE" and all people have to do is take up yearly membership at nominal charges and they can get all they want on Escalate.This is a small scale venture but a dream that would be accepted by all music and book freaks. 
Using Sky Drive the databases would be updated as it is accessible both online and offline after synchronization. Basically this would help in searching the item the customer is looking for. Also as sorted genre wise, it would help them find their interest easily and connect to people with similar taste. The online virtual library that has so many options promises the customer to leaf through books and scan through tracks and place the order, oo yes we would also provide hard copies of the books after a few months of a successful kick off. Also to the ease of the management unit aka me for starters, one of the best feature is that I need not be present all the time at server end to check the records management, I can sync and configure Microsoft Office 365 on my touch screen cell phone, or tablet and access the data anywhere simplifying the real life tedious  task of checking the business development as the software is running in a Microsoft data center. Moreover the capital investment and man power charges are hardly any. All I would need is a web domain to get started. And in addition to all this the IT brains on the business front end can rest on the laurels of Microsoft as they promise to do the heavy duty task of security and reliability provision with the Office 365 suite.
A music store, bookstore and a movie house that swims in my dreams can be materialized virtually thanks to the technological advancements and the better technology race and demands that have percolated deep in our minds these days. And as Escalate has a dash of technology so familiar to all yet with a new look courtesy Microsoft Office 365, it would surely appeal the targeted customers, bookworms and music hookers like me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Its HIMTS and not HIMYM

Sunday 7TH APRIL, sun bathing train ride, bus ride and a bit of foot ride too all part of the story. Kids let me tell you the story of “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER”…opps “HOW I MET THE SUN”. It all began the way I just told you –with travel. It’s a part but not the entire story, moving on…not very long time ago an amazing brand called Neutrogena arranged an Indibloggers meet in JW Marriott, Mumbai of which I was a part too. Now coming out of my Ted Mosby avatar I Vaisakhi Mishra *super excited* *tired from the sun’s steel white and yellow gaze” entered the amazing structure of Marriot’s to a sea of YELLOW…from the lobby to the drapes, from the officials to the host, from the umbrellas to the balls all I could see was yellow. Also some yellow ghosts, na they were white sporting the Neutrogena Fairness Face Mask

 Anyways I went inside the huge hall hunting for my old friends, the ones I had made in my first indi meet, but I was asked to register and write my name is a super cute cocktail umbrella *yellow* in colour. Been there, done that I rushed to the 2nd front table which was occupied by my group of 6 idiots but little did we know Mr. Anoop had plans of kicking us to different spots in fragments at the very start of the event. He made people abandon their group and select tables with people they don’t know, 2 girls and 2 boys atleast on a table, and the table that got set the earliest got beautiful USD hand bands. *not mine*

After their first blow picked from the “ice breaker 101” book was successfully implemented they picked the 2nd formula “the umbrella formula”. Remember each of us wrote our names is yellow cocktail umbrella’s , we picked one out of many and were made to find that person know them and wait for it…introduce them to everyone when their name popped on the indiblogger screen. Then something strange happened Neha D got her own name from the fish bowl, what are the odds??!!??...and got a wildcraft bag, if I m not mistaken, also yellow in colour. Apart from her I got Suranga Aunty’s umbrella, the oldest yet super cool blogger with two blogs, introduced her and got yellow ludacris headphones.*yippee*. The intros were nice informative and hilarious at the sametime. Intros – nailed it.

Post the the 2nd rule we were shuffled again as per rule 3, be in groups of holes – there were holes in the cocktail umbrellas…1, 2 3, 4, 5 and 6. Mine had two and two had 25 people in the crew. Then the “Sun”ny naming ceremony began and my crew was named “Sun Of Sardar” cause we had the munda from Punjab Ratandeep Dhody as the Captain. *Yay*. Once the groups were set we had to make anthems about sun and Neutrogena, afterall it was a sun block skin care themed meet. And lucky us we had Suranga Date and Amena Aziz twisted the sung suraj hua matham into the perfect anthem, and I got a chance to sing it SOLO. Result we won!!!...even though it was a tie with group 1 “Sunsunny” were were announced 1st so the wicked cunning smart side of me says We Won!!!...:P

And there started the group war. Indibloggers made us fight for pride in waterloo style using umbrellas and cannon balls.

Umbrellas Umbrellas Umbrellas with some holes
O what fun it is to hit your opponents with some balls

Logic was that sunscreens usually promising 100% protection from sun actually have holes in it or flaws in simple words because they are not effective against the UVA rays and that is where Neutrogena steps up. But logic or no logic the physical war of UV smiley balls was super entertaining. And the war was won by the Spartans “smallest but mightiest” group 6.

Post the fun dose was the food troll – troll cause we had to be actual trolls to eat so much. Veg and non veg – variety variety variety. Deserts – Jalebi, Rabri, Chocolate mousse, Cheese cake!!! And dan tea 10 flavours coffee 3, what to choose what no to choose. Having a stomach full and a heart half – for not being able to taste everything, we all went inside to get our sunny gyan with Neutrogena.

In came the charming, glowing, slim and cute Tara Sharma Saluja. She spoke about her show THE TARA SHARMA SHOW which is about parenting (she has 2 kids!!) and really nice *I saw some epis* and made us a fan of Neutrogena buy saying she uses it, and her skin – damn its actually healthy. She told her the 3 easy steps to perfect healthy skin is cleanse moisturize and protect (following diligently now). After her talk was the Q&A with her and also the youngest blogger of our group Ashwin Pathak (13 yrs old with a tech blog, believe it or not) got to unveil the hamper we all would get at the end of the event…

Post her appearance was the turn of derm…dermt…dermatologist (sorry for the Tara Sharma effect) whose session was an eye opener.

Facts now I know for sure:
1.       SPF does not guarantee the level of protection. Higher the SPF more protection – wrong notion.
2.       There are 6 types of skins depending on the melamine which is the main cause of skin shades.
3.       UVA cause tanning and most sunscreens are useless against it. Sure thing, thanx to the UV light effect demonstration.
4.       Sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 hours and if we spet into swimming pools and beaches it’s every 45 minutes.
5.       Sunscreens can be used on kids above 3 yrs of age.

Anyways gyan session done and it was time to check the temperature of the twitter fever set by Indibloggers the previous night – the anything under the sun activity, for which I stayed up all night and tweeted like an owl like many other owls of my den, also came close to a win with my scuba diving tweet but guess horses always win. So it was Anushree who won the Nokia lumia 620 with her horse riding tweet. And last but not the least it was time for the insane monkey like crazy Harlem Shake session. And now we also have a Indibloggers Harlem shake video on youtube.

Suraj ke rays se na ho pyaar
But holed chattri’s ka ho attyachaar
Sun of Sardar
An appointment with sun ho jab tyaar
Karo Nuetrogena humara udhaar
Sun of Sardar
Jab ho maha Harlem shake tyaar
And indibloggers bhi ho yaar
Sun of Sardar…..
Sorry for pakao lines ka this prahar
But its indibuddies ka lots of pyaar
Sun of Sardar…

That is when we realized that the sun was almost gone and we had to return to our homes too. A quick photo parade here and there, some byes and hugs, some teases and tears, a shirt and a smile at the almost vanished sun with a great “Neutrogena Ultra Sheer hamper in my hand.
Kids that was a perfect day, and that was the day I met sun with a huge smile and lot of yellow....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

World of the Paranormal: Tantra

Title: Tantra

Author: Adi
ISBN: 978-81-908636-2-9
Genre: Fantasy Thriller
Publishers: Apeejay Stya
Price: INR. 195


“God is the embodiment of that vastness, the source and the end of everything. There is no good. There is no evil. It is all an illusion manifest.”

Indian authors and thrillers is not a very common notion. Unfortunately lesser known Indian authors perch themselves on the branch of love stories to see how the world of readers embraces them. So when I first saw the book “Tantra” by Adi, frankly I was a bit surprised with the prologue and wanted to read the book as soon as possible. No high hopes, cause of the perceptions I had, but way too curious to know about a female lead, who fights with Vampires, in a book named Tantra (black magic).
Anu Aggarwal, a US returned, Indian Delhiete girl, lives with a nagging but loving aunt with a mission of getting her niece married before Anu gets to say the word marriage, is a no nonsense guardian whose soul hobby is hunting down the demons of night – Vampires. But Anu has a looming sadness and desire for vengeance veiled under her “go for the kill attitude”, for her now dead boyfriend Brain. This reason brings her to the city of Delhi where she has to put her past aside and learn life is not just shades of black and white, right and wrong, there is more to every story, every being. The story soon transgresses form simple vampire-human track to a much explored and engrossing paranormal narrative.
The story starts with Anu sitting alone, gazing at a sleepy Delhi and ends with her defeating the darkness that thrived under the spell of moon with many allies she never thought she would have. The character of Anu is woven beautifully in threads of life, and as the story progresses the character is strongly emerges to be more than just a trained killer. It easily reminded me of one of my favourite fictional female leads of all time “NIKITA”. Her journey of how she started off alone, made a friend then two, her fight with herself about what to believe and what to not, learning from her mistakes, understanding anything can be true, trusting friends and foes, caring for a family she always pulled herself away from, this is the journey of Anu and she surely takes you everywhere with her through the book.

1 -     It is a fast read with simple and flowing prose. Hits off with the main story with the 3rd chapter itself. If you have 2 hours in a day or 3 tops, for a book, I bet you can’t keep the book down till you finish it.
2.      Focus on the storyline and the connectivity rather than all the characters keeps you gripped till the very end.
3.      A strong female lead with normal and paranormal issues is a welcome change and hence the book strikes the curiosity chord of a diligent reader.
4.      A considerably good balance of witty lines, funny punches and serious dialogues.

-  A few grammatical errors here and there which will irritate the grammar police. For example: page 184 3rd last line “keepings its memories”.
Not a lot of background and a lot of things are left to the understanding of the reader. Though it tickles imaginative side of many, some readers might find it disconnecting.
- Selection of places for meets and events. Though it is not a big issue, it made the story seem a little fake from a reader’s point of view, a bit overdone as almost all of the places her high profile 3 or 5 start places of Delhi.

Overall it is a pleasant read and a very good first attempt by the author. I would have given it a 3.5 star but because I could connect it so strongly to Nikita I had to give a four *guilty me*. A potential series is what I see with this book as the first, and if it turns out to be true would be waiting eagerly to see how much tantra percolates and settles itself in our protagonist’s life. The book is an intense paranormal thriller sprinkled with witty phrases, garnished with strong puzzling characters and the intention of proving “tantra’ is not all wrong nor are the creatures we dread so much, there is always more to what we see and understand; it is all perspective. It is sure to appeal to a young reader base. 


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