Posted in Desserts, Recipes

Moong Daal Halwa and the memories of those chilly, winter weddings!

If you have ever been a part of a wedding in North India, I am pretty sure you know, and you love Moong Daal Halwa. It is a popular Rajasthani dessert/sweetmeat made by roasting soaked and ground moong ( split and skinless green gram ) in ghee until golden and sweetening it with sugar, cooking it until it is of a thick, luscious consistency. Naturally, its high calorific value makes it a little too heavy to be consumed in warm weather, but it is the perfect treat for cold, windy nights when all you crave is something that warms you up right from the inside.

 

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Posted in My Bibliothèque, Non Fiction

{ Book Review } Hidden Figures : The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly!

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hidden Figures is a true account of a group of black American mathematicians ( I won’t use ‘African Americans’ because the book doesn’t discuss their ethnic heritage so it would be wrong to assume ) who provided substantial contributions to the advancements made by US of A in aircraft tech and space research between 1940s to 1970s. It follows the lives of 3 mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who were “computers” with NACA ( now NASA) called so because they used pencils, slide rules and computing tables to perform complex calculations that would help the engineers model or modify aircraft tech.

It begins in an America which was still shackled by “equal but separate ” adage, which wasn’t true factually speaking. Separate schools, separate bathrooms and separate sections in cafeterias just scratch the surface of the discrimination that was on rampart. The bigger problem was white folks calcified and calloused attitude to this discrimination. The Black schools lacked severely infrastructure and facilities. Even qualified black graduates could not apply to most of the positions in the civil service or private sector, definitely not the white collared ones. A lot of beaches and resorts were out of bounds for them, even the well to do populations, even the ones with the means to pay for them.  They were declined services almost in all such places. The Great Depression that followed WW II was a creak, a tiny opening in the door, for these well qualified, highly deserving women, the who, until then, had to be satisfied with underpaying teaching jobs and such. However, it did set the tone for more opportunities in the days to come. Each of these women came from a background, no different than you and me, and grew up instilled with values, self esteem and a thirst to prove themselves and reliance on work hard. One of my favourite quotes from the book is something young Katherine Goble’s father taught each of his children:

You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and SensibilityJane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane of Austin is a wonderful, contemporary spin on Jane Austin classic ‘Sense and Sensibility’.Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves uprooted from their recently settles lives running a tea shop in San Francisco due to unforeseen circumstances. In the aftermath of their father’s business scandal, they again face a sad prospect of disturbing their barely settled lives and are forced to move to Austin, Texas. The duo packs up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. They do so grudgingly, but the developments in their lives are not all smooth, When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the relationship between the sisters’ strains which is surprising considering how they have held on to each other all these difficult years. Also attracted to Jane is retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but he holds back his feelings because of his disability and also certain personal circumstances, he is bitter about his return not just because of his scars from the war but also the scars of his past.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance

{ Book Review } – A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman !

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Call Ove ( pronounced as a soft ‘ooh’ + ‘ve’ as in vegetarian, it tried my best but I am not so good with Swedish pronunciation ) a curmudgeon, a grumbler, or a Grinch, but I bet he will have you loving him like your own loved one by the end of this book. Because he is the Grinch with a “large” heart (both literally as well as metaphorically). This book is full of dry humour and dull prose for most of the part, both of which I stay away from when I select books. I know it is not a very good analogy, but the prose in the book reminds me of Ikea furniture, straight lines, right angles and simple form. It is most definitely not an easy book to start. You might want to give up after a couple of chapters, but if you persist, you are in for a treat. Midway in the book, the curmudgeon will stop appearing irritating to you, I promise. Instead, he becomes someone you are scared of turning into as you grow old. And by then, it will make you hug your loved ones tighter, that’s guaranteed.

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Posted in Dystopia, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood !

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been a difficult book for me to finish, took me quite a long time to finish. I suspected as much, and therefore, instead of reading it on my own, I read it with a Book Club / Facebook Group. The thing is, I rarely pick up a book which is outside my comfort zone, by which, I mean that I mostly pick up books which comfort me, make me feel happy. If I pick it up, there is no guarantee that I will finish it. And I knew that this wasn’t the feel-good kind of book I choose most of the time. I might have put it down out of the sadness that this book brings, but reading with a group brings a wafer thin layer of accountability, and so I persisted.
The book is odd. Not in the sense that it’s overly complex or uses obnoxious or pretentious language, but rather in the sense that it is scary and emotionally taxing from a woman’s perspective. It is set in a Dystopian state of Gilead. There are too many adjectives that one can throw here – Dystopian, futuristic, dark and worryingly prophetic.

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Posted in Gujarati Literature, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – Krishnayan by Kajal Oza Vaidya !

KrishnayanKrishnayan by Kaajal Oza-Vaidya

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know why but I felt like reading a book in my mother tongue, Gujarati, and so after minimal scouting, I picked this up thanks to rave reviews from friends. Krishnayan is in a way, a retelling of a lifetime that Lord Vishnu spends walking this earth as a mortal. It mainly focuses on his relationships with the three important women in this life, Radha, Rukmini and Draupadi. And yet, most surprisingly, the relationship between a middle-aged Radha and her teenage daughter in law is my favourite, despite being only briefly described. The good thing about the book is that it doesn’t attempt to paint pictures of what happened in Mahabharata for the reader. It rather deals with a wide range of human emotions of love, desire, jealousy, dissatisfaction and finally settles on talking about a sense of detachment that Krishna aims to develop. If you are looking for what happened, how it happened and why it happened, you might be in for some disappointment.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Mythology, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan !

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you come across books which are pure temptation? I mean, I knew that the book I was then reading, A Man called Ove, was a much better book in all respect, but somehow, was rendered helpless against the lure of this one. 😬 I am a Bahubali fan, not a supremely crazy one, but a fan nonetheless. So, I bought this after a brief wait. The miser than I am, I usual don’t buy new releases, but then it was Bahubali. I started the book with the misconception that it would start at the birth of Sivagami, and merge with the story at the beginning of the movie. A little later I learnt that is a part of trilogy that maps the kingdom of Mahishmathi, as a extension of the Bahubali universe. The story begins with a young Sivagami and you suddenly notice all the streaks of the character in the movie. ( Although I admit, I just kept seeing an image of Ramya, younger, I don’t think I can separate that from the character, just yet ). From a childhood where she witnesses her father being awarded a death sentence for treason, to a teenaged orphan, the transition is subtle and natural. However, she is not the fundamental character of the book.

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