Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review: I Am Big So What!? by Shuchi Kalra

It was an instant yes when Finger Print Publishers offered a review copy of I Am Big So What!? by Shuchi Kalra for an honest review. I have read the author's first book Done With Men, which is a novella in e-book format, and enjoyed. I was definitely looking forward to her next, and well, I am not disappointed.

The book asks: "Is it only in India where people don't realize that starting a conversation with "Oh! You've put on weight!" is incredibly rude?"

I am not sure about "Only India" but in India, it's, sadly, true!

This book is about Roli Kapoor, a freelance graphic designer and her struggle with her stubborn obesity. It's about her desire for true love. Her yearning for acceptance. "Why can't people love and respect her the way she is?" is a big question hovering around her.

After a painful break up with Ronit, that came without any explanation, Roli is all set to meet the suitor no. 7 as she decides to go for an arranged marriage (While she secretly wants Ronit back in her life). This suitor no. 7, Kabir, looks familiar. When the reason of this inexplicable familiarity dawns upon Roli, she feels shattered, yet again. From now on, her life is going to change, forever. Why? Who's this Kabir? And, why his presence affects Roli so much? What about Ronit? Will she ever embrace the true love of her life?

To know all these answers, you will have to read this book, and you'll enjoy unfolding these answers.

Although, the book is about an obese girl, it's good that the book promotes healthy lifestyle. It's even better that it doesn't show any magical changes in Roli's weight. It makes it real for the truth is that weight loss is a tough and slow process.

The language is neat as expected but a little modish, which I am not fan of. Maybe, it is intentional, keeping the young generation in mind. The narration is entertaining as ever. But sometimes, I felt that it was more telling than showing. Even though I am not fond of descriptive writing style, I wish it had a little more detailing of emotions and surroundings.

The book is written in first person, and it seems that someone is talking to you, which gives a nice feeling.

Considering the theme, book cover is apt, but I, personally, don't like real models on the novel covers. I would have liked it more if the figure was faceless as a representation of every girl who is battling against weight issues. Also, I didn't like the blurb on the back cover for it doesn't give any idea of the story, or protagonist or even the genre. So, it can be confusing for those readers who follow the blurb before grabbing any book.

The author has sketched the characters skilfully and the best thing is that 'every' character plays a significant role in the story. Roli is adorable. Kabir is likeable. Situations are relatable and convincing. I especially liked the second half of the book for it's gripping, and fast paced. I love those insightful "Buddha Moments" that come twice in Roli's life, and enlighten her.

Overall, it was a nice, enjoyable and entertaining read! If you are looking for a light interesting read, go grab it!

I thank the publisher for a review copy for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

4 reasons "Don't Diet" by Kavita Devgan will keep you motivated for weight loss

Cravings are natural, but it makes you eat more than necessary.
Kavita Devgan (Author and nutritionist), in her debut book “Don’t Diet: 50 Habits of Thin People”, says “If you can learn to ignore the urge, cravings typically last just 10 minutes”
Weight loss is all about motivation. But real success doesn't lie in getting motivated but it lies in staying motivated. And Don’t Diet by Kavita Devgan keeps you motivated. Sometimes, this book is a gentle reminder. Sometimes, it is informative and enlightening.
Here are 4 reasons this book will keep you motivated:
  1. Author’s friendly voice:
The book is written in a light and assuring tone. Like a friend is suggesting something that you’d want to believe and follow. This 208 page (plus 31 page diary for maintaining personal weight loss targets) book never turns boring and preachy. The author skilfully manages to catch the vulnerability of the person on weight loss mission and provides practical solutions. The chapters are small with interesting titles and cute illustrations.
      2. The book asks you to go slow:
This book doesn’t force targets upon you. It assures, with some practical facts, that you should go slow and still you can achieve your goals. It asks you to exercise, of course, but suggests some easy to do work outs. There are 10 minute workout plans enclosed.
The author advocates changes in lifestyle, but plans slow changes in the form of daily, weekly, and monthly challenges. These changes won’t bother you much.
       3.  This book encourages you to eat your ‘Happy Diet’:
This book is against leaving your favourite foods that come to your plate every day. It tells you to eat guilt free but at the same time helps you to choose your food wisely. Warning comes in the form of calorie count chart that makes you realize how much you munch every now and then. The author has included some snacking options that fall under 100 calories.
       4. The author offers some interesting and innovative recipes that seem yum!
If you love cooking or experimenting with the recipes, this point can be the biggest motivation for you. Yes, the book carries 50 healthy and interesting recipes. Innovative recipes. Some I haven’t heard of. Maybe, they are results of author’s experiments. Beverages, snacks, meals, and even deserts!

I think it’s a must have for those who aim for losing weight/staying thin/maintaining healthy lifestyle! Go grab it and savour! If I have to find one negative thing about this book, it would be its price (INR 300). It may go a little heavy on your pocket.
I got this book from the author for an honest review. Since, this is not a fiction, I thought to do it differently (With the author's consent, of course). This is my first book based on health and fitness, and I’m glad I read it! Thank you, Kavita!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Natural Alarm in Our Brain

If you are anxious or over-exited about any forthcoming event before sleeping, you are more likely to wake up far before the alarm buzzes.

But, some people have natural alarm installed in their brains. Just tell them, "Please wake me @ 4 in the morning." and they can schedule themselves to do it just like an alarm. Not that they stay awake to wake you up.

I have never been a morning person (Except it's absolutely necessary like exams or something like that). I prefer staying awake till 3-4 am. rather than getting up early in the morning.

One of my family friends wakes up (too) early and cleans everything like a maniac.

"You know, I woke up late today." She said one day.


"4:45 am."

I know your days are more productive if you're an early bird (Except writing). Mornings are beautiful and refreshing, and it gifts you your much deserved 'me time'.

During my boards, my grandfather used to wake me up every morning even before my alarm. I felt that the alarm in my clock was useless. I used to tell the time (I wanted to get up at) and he was right there knocking at my door. Every single time!

How could he do that every single day? It's true that sleeping pattern changes with age, still...

"How does he do that? Every single day?" I asked my grandmother, one day.

"Meditate, and tell "Tarang, wake me up @ 5 in the morning" before going to bed, and see the magic!" She said smiling.

Of course, she was joking! Right?

"Tarang, wake me up @ 5 in the morning." I took a deep breath and said this to me.

At 4:55 am, I was wide awake. Sounds creepy, isn't it?

Later, after trying a couple of times (with 90% success rate), I forgot about it.

Recently, again trying to be a morning person (I love that silence and me time in the morning), I tried this and surprisingly, it worked. But, the thing is that I tend to forget about it!

Psychology says that human brains have natural alarm. Just, our body and brain need to coordinate and cooperate. And, it seems my body and brain have started to do that! I've managed to some extent.

In doing so, I have realised:

That for getting up early, you need to have something to look forward to.

That you should go slow. Don't try to get up @ 5 if you generally wake up @ 8. It won't work. Try shifting by 10-15 minutes.

And, if the sound of alarm irks you, you can always try telling yourself every night, ""Your Name", wake me up @..."

Did you know about this? Do you have any such quirks? Would you like to try this? If you do, please come back and tell me if it worked or not?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

JNU: All that anxiety and fuss

I am amazed how things take turns, and get twisted in our country. How thinking varies with caste, community and gender. The thing that's unfair is equally unfair for every single individual. It can't be categorised or enhanced or reduced differently for different people.

This JNU thing has created an uproar. Actually, to the extent which, I think, was not necessary. This is a topic that I tried my best to avoid. But couldn't.

What happened?

It was not anything unusual for JNU. They are people with amazing energy. But, disturbance started with some slogans that some students were shouting (And there's no doubt about it). Slogans that were not in good taste, and certainly not in the favour of our nation. It doesn't mean that the whole JNU was burning in this "Aazaadi"thing. It's not that difficult to understand that it's not about entire JNU. It's about a bunch of destructive anti-social, anti-national (Not aunty-National) elements. 

Then, out of nowhere, strange voices emerge in support of JNU and the problem that reeked of danger, seemed to tamper the sense of security, takes a back seat. Some called it idea, freedom of expression and Brunch (Hindustan times) called it intelligence!

Well, idea is a broad term, and can cover various things. Anything. From something constructive to destructive. In a place like college/University, ideas must breathe freely but don't you think it should be "constructive ideas"?

Then, "Freedom of Expression". In India, this term has evolved massively. But again, I'd say, it's a constructive term, and one cannot get away with "I-Am-Free-To-Do-Whatever-I-Want-To-Do" attitude in the name of 'freedom of expression'. With this meaning, anything and everything can fall under this category. Even those posters against Kanhaiya Kumar. Can one approve that? Certainly NOT!

I somehow felt that targeting Kanhaiya Kumar was a kind of distraction. It is important to know that: If not him, then who? Nobody seems to know. Not even JNU leaders who speak in a signature tone and style. It is like that filmy crime scene that happens publicly but nobody accepts that he/she was present there and has seen that happen.

Supporting what has happened at JNU doesn't make one cool or supremely intellectual. It's a serious issue and needs to be investigated thoroughly. If everything is clean, what could be better than that?

It's not an unusual thing if someone tries to damage the peace and integrity of our country. It happens quite often and engulfs several precious lives. If anything seriously dangerous happens, everyone starts blaming the Government and our security system very conveniently.

And Now!

When Kanhaiya Kumar is back, everyone is behaving like he has returned from the Border after a huge victory. As if he is a freedom fighter and the Government is like British rulers. It seems that opposition has taken this term quite literally. They think their job is just to oppose. Anything is fair for political benefits. And, it's so immature of BJP to react to Kanhaiya Kumar's speech like this. Media is vying for his interview! (Well, one can easily understand the competition of coverage. If they can show live telecast of serious and dangerous attacks then it is cypher in that comparison! After all it's a number (TRP) game)

It seems that everyone is unnecessarily portraying his heroic picture. Something he might have expected. To evolve as a revolutionary or politician.

Who is he? Student? No comments. Politician? Maybe, and it's okay. Revolutionary? A good thing to be but someone please tell me what this revolution is all about? What is this fuss about "Aazaadi"? Which kind of Aazaadi JNU students seek?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why would you un-follow people on Twitter? #SocialMedia

Social media presence is kind of essential for people's profile these days. When I say social media, I mean Twitter and blog. I'm definitely NOT talking about Facebook. I'm not a bit interested in FB. I love my blog and I find solace on Twitter. Ironic, isn't it? But, chaos of twitter keeps me calm and distracted (for a while of course) from anxiety.

Readers are more important than followers. Those who read your posts and are kind enough to leave you comments. I have an average readership (It's amazing to see bloggers who get 40-90 comments every post! And I sometimes I feel like my words don't even exist, just like my FB page). It's so sweet of Rudraprayaga who visits my blog regularly, and I truly thank her for this!

So, basically, interaction is important.

Recently, I read This interesting Post On Social Media by Alok Singhal, and I couldn't agree more. Every point is so relevant!

Then today, Shailaja V, a wonderful blogger who covers various interesting themes, conducted a poll on Twitter. Why would you un-follow people on Twitter? She gave four options, and asked to add options that's missing. I added two more options. That acted like a prompt and I decided to write about it.

So here are the options.

People on Twitter Who -

Are Uninteresting: Interesting or uninteresting, it depends on individuals. A thing that is interesting/relevant for me may not be interesting for others. But yes, I don't want to follow (I may not un-follow though) those who constantly tweet their pictures. I mean who wants to know how you looked/what you wore/what you bought every morning. It is so Facebook-ish!

Or some tweets are just endorsements. It's okay as social media is a great platform for promotion but why can't you post something interesting (other than endorsement) for a change?

Or some just whine about single thing every single day. It's annoying.

Or spread negativity with their depressing tweets!

Don't Follow Back: I don't do this, honestly! I'm very selective and sure about my following list but when I follow people I don't expect a follow back (Of course it feels nice when they follow back!). I follow many people who don't follow me.

But people often do this, following with an expectation of follow-back (and un-following when you don't live up to their expectation). My followers number go like this: 499 to 501, then 499, 496, then seems like a number game.

Tweet too often: I don't mind this until tweets are interesting/informative/thoughtful. But, if it's constant endorsements (I got it you have just released your book) and frequent RTs (that's not relevant to me), it's irritating!

Hardly tweet anything: This is boring. Why would I follow people who don't tweet anything for several months or years? I want to un-follow them after waiting for few months.

Follow you (Get your follow back) and then un-follow!: This is mean. When I joined twitter, I saw a very famous personality whose followers and following number were same (more than a lakh). In fact he wrote in his profile "I always follow back". It obviously attracted his fans. Then one fine day, he decided to declutter his following list. Now he followed just 200-300 people and his followers remained the same.

Last year, someone (a well known writer) followed me. I followed him back out of courtesy even though I haven't read his books. Then one day, he thought I was not good enough to be followed and un-followed me. I was new on twitter and I found it mean so I too un-followed him. Just few days back, he again followed me. I didn't and guess what? He un-followed me within a day!

Never reply: This is rude. How busy you could be to not reply? Even Ratan Tata replies to the tweet sent to him (He did to one of my friends). One can understand if you are a celebrity but if you are not, what does it take to reply to your readers or those who are saying something to you?

I like Preeti Shenoy. The way she interacts with her readers (On her blog and social networking sites). People read your tweets or blogposts. Take time to write to you and you just leave them unanswered. This is simply not done. You must respect/value your readers! Interaction builds connection, sometimes really good and valuable connections.

So, what's your Social Media Peeves?