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Posts from — October 2014

Friday Review: God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

Title: God is a Gamer
Author: Anurag Anand
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books India (September 12th 2014)
Genre: Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: ***/5
Buy On: Amazon | Flipkart – eBook/Paperback

Summary: (Goodreads)
Aditya runs a gaming company that is struggling to break even. A banker slips off a highrise building, plunging to her death. The finance minister has made some promises that he is finding hard to keep. The LTTE has unleashed terror in America that sends the FBI on a wild goose chase, bringing them to Mumbai.
Enter Varun, parttime drug dealer and fulltime genius. He turns around the gaming company before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the investigators plunge headlong into the shady world of bitcoins and the Dark Net, websites that only exist for illegal transactions—drugs, sex and money. God Is a Gamer culminates in a stunning climax where money means nothing, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.

My Review:

Note: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Cover: Eye-catchy!

Paper and font: Ebony on Ivory!

Readability, language: Easy on the Mind.

Why did I choose this book: A book on bit coins sounded interesting, so I thought ‘why not’.

A simple email scam sets off an avalanche of scams, murders and complications. A US Senator is assassinated, an ATM heist is pulled off, a bank is put in jeopardy, a virus is released, virtual money is stolen, a bank chairman is murdered, and there is more. How all of this ties in, is what God is a Gamer is all about.

When I first came across the book, I remember the name striking me as an interesting name. Having read the book, now, I don’t see a connection between the title and story. The cover though well done is a typical thriller cover, not unlike the Dan Brown’s and Tom Clancy’s. The blurb is very unsatisfactory. It has more praise for the author than info on the story. And the little that is said, is said in such a convoluted manner that it muddles more than intrigues.

I have to concede that the plot is new and yet… I felt the plot was just too thick, Subramanian has packed the story with so many twists and sub-plots that after a while I was all lost. There was so much happening and the story was told in bits as it unfolds across the world in various peoples lives.

The story spans across countries but centers mostly around Mumbai and Washington DC. Subramanian’s descriptions of the cities are quite bang on, especially Goa and its hot spots. Yet some how it all feels disjointed.

The story is packed with characters, so many that sometimes I forgot who was who. I couldn’t figure out who was the hero or heroine even at the end of it all. There were just so much happening to so many people.

I took a day off to read the book and sat glued to it through the day. Thinking back it wasn’t because the story was that gripping but rather because it was all so complicated that I really wanted to get to the end and see how Subramanian tied it all up. The story is like a magicians knot, complicated, tied up, twisted and convoluted but one jerk by the magician and it all straightens out.

Subramanian hops about all over as he tells the story in small bits as it unfolds. This did make for difficult reading as I tried to parallel process all he was saying. Added to this were the intimate scenes with somehow felt out of place to me, almost like the author had to meet a target and so put them in there. The language though is simple and easy, the pace good too.

If my review seems all muddled, it’s because the book left me all muddled. There is just so much happening. I’m not sure if so many sub-plots were needed. There is just one too many a scam. A thriller doesn’t have to be so complicated, does it?

The cover carries the text ‘Is revenge a crime?’. This doesn’t make sense until you read the last four pages. Subramanian makes complex complicated knots on a storyline through the book and tries to untangle with a flourish at the end. Well, he did manage untangle them and explain it all, but was there a flourish, that is debatable.

A book for YA and above. Over all a good book if you don’t intend to use your mind while reading it.

About the Author:
An alumnus of IIM Bangalore, Ravi Subramanian is a banker who has used his industry knowledge to write five bestselling novels. He lives in Mumbai with his wife and daughter. See his other books on his website – www.authorravis.com.

Buy On: Amazon | Flipkart – eBook/Paperback

October 31, 2014   No Comments

It’s Not Tick Fever, It’s Auto-Immune

It’s been over a month since I first talked about Cuckoo getting tick fever. Che was traveling at that time and it was a extremely stressful week. I had read up on tick fever like a student before exams, cleaned house like a maniac and watched the dogs like a stalker.

After ten days of doxycycline as medication Cuckoo was due for another round of blood tests. Che had returned by then so it was possible to take Cuckoo across to Cessna while he handled the howlers. After another maddening trip to Cessna where Cuckoo peed in the car, slipped her collar and harness at the sight of the needle and generally went out of her way to give the Docs a hard time, we got the blood work results.

Her platelet count had gone up but not as much as the Doctor would have liked. Recovery was taking too long he said and things needed to be speeded up. They gave her one shot of prednisolone and put her on a 10 day course of it along with the doxycycline.

While discussing the treatment plan I asked the Doc about how we would confirm at the end of treatment that Cuckoo was not a carrier of the Ehrlichia canis organism any more. With six dogs that’s a concern because if she is a carrier all the other five will always be at risk. The Doc said that to do that we would extend her treatment plan to 6-8 weeks and also run the 4Dx Snap test on her blood to confirm that she isn’t a carrier any more.

4Dx Snap test… There was a test for tick fever? I promptly asked the Doc how much the test costs and why we hadn’t tested her until now. The test he said was Rs.1000 and was not needed now as he was 100% sure it was tick fever.

Armed with this information I left the clinic and updated Che with all that had happened. He asked the same question, why hadn’t we tested Cuckoo until now. The only difference was he wasn’t satisfied with the Doc’s answer, he insisted on the test being done. However the same blood sample could not be used as this test required blood serum and hence a fresh blood sample was needed.

Since we had already left the clinic there was no point in going back to take another sample, especially considering how much Cuckoo was freaking out. Two days later we got another Vet to come home and take a sample that we could personally take to Cessna for testing. This Vet saw Cuckoo for the first time that day and he had a diagonally opposite diagnosis that startled me.

He checked out Cuckoo, asked a few questions and declared that she didn’t have tick fever. And I was like ‘what?!’ He explained that considering her activity levels, physical signs and appetite were good, the possibility of tick fever was minimal. The spots I was seeing on her neck and stomach was most likely to be auto-immune disease.

Auto-immune disease was not that simple though and didn’t have a straight forward cure. Our best treatment option was steroids for about ten days in a tapered dosage he said. After that we could do a repeat test for platelet count, but the main thing was that we had to just watch and wait and hope it sorted out. There was no perfect cure.

He changed the daily dosage amount prescribed and wrote out the same prednisolone prescription. Dr. Morton didn’t think a snap test was required but we insisted he take a blood sample. After he left Che and I sat down to wait out the one hour it would take the blood to completely clot before we could transport it.

The test itself is simple and quick, not unlike a pregnancy test. And just like with pregnancy tests we were pacing to see the results of this one. The result was negative. Cuckoo did not have tick fever. We had given her doxycycline for ten days for no reason. Even Dr. Ramesh now told Che it was auto-immune and that that was why he had prescribed prednisolone two days ago.

At that point of time with all this news I wasn’t sure which was better and whether we had gone from the frying pan into the fire. What we did do though was watch Cuckoo like a hawk for the next ten days and gave her her medications like clockwork. The medication was a pain though as I not only had to make halves and quarters but also 1/8ths. 😀

It’s been a couple of weeks now and between steroids and homeopathy, Cuckoo has gotten better. The spots have gone away and have stopped showing up. After all that panic and palpitation, I may be breathing easier now but through it all Cuckoo has been herself, completely cuckoo!

Special thanks to Devisri who helped chauffeur Cuckoo to Cessna and manage her there (with a bitch like Cuckoo that is a lot!). :)

October 6, 2014   1 Comment

My Week in Photos: A Howler from Cuckoo

A glimpse of the past week with a random collection of photos taken by me and Che through the week. :)

It’s bath week and between Che and me we got 4 dogs done. Got two more to go!

 

Senti and William have been getting a little cozy this week. That’s a new milestone in their relationship!

Cuckoo has her very own TV at home. You should see her watch with rapt attention from this vantage point…

And if you haven’t had enough of Cuckoo you can listen to her too!

Morning Raga #indogadventures #chescuckoo #instadog #dogslife #dogsofinstagram

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Here’s what busy mornings look like at Pawsible…

Che calls this photo “My Muses”, but I’ve put it here because I love how my hair is curling and that’s what I look like when I’m trying hard to catch up on some writing!

Bakri Eid is coming up on Monday and the cattle markets are in full swing… The same grounds that were full of Ganesh Idols and then Durga Idols, are now full of goats…

What had you been upto last week?

October 5, 2014   No Comments

The Saturday Tirade: My Dilemma on Bakri Eid

It’s that time of the year again when I feel like I’m in a Nazi camp. After all these years, I’m still shaken and upset by the number of deaths on one day. It’s Bakri Eid and I’m still struggling.

Some parts of the city are like cattle fairs running full steam. There are goats, sheep, cows and camels spread out and people haggling over them. The smell of cattle hits your nostrils way before you actually see the animals and then before you know it, you are passing through a sea of animals waiting for death. Over the years this smell of cattle has become the smell of death for me.

As a child of maybe ten or so I remember sneaking out to watching a sacrifice after being specifically instructed by my parents not to. I watched horror struck and ran back in shocked and terrified by what I had seen. It wasn’t the death I think that scared me, it was the slow death, the struggle and the fact that someone would take a life so easily.

Some years later my parents went through the whole ritual of a sacrifice. They brought in a goat, fed and kept it for a year and then sacrificed it. I went through those emotions of horror again, only this time it was heightened by emotional attachment. That if I remember right, it was the last time my parents did a sacrifice at home. (Now they do it in other ways)

Fast forward to now. Over the last 4 years I’ve been feeding my dogs raw meat. What that means in that I go to the meat and chicken shop and buy the meat. I haven’t watched a cow being slaughtered but I have watched tons of chicken being killed. After all these years I had thought that I had been toughened, that the slaughter wouldn’t horrify me anymore.

But that ride through the cattle filled street shook me up. I was all teary eyed by the time I got to the end of the stretch. The thought of what awaited those animals filled me with pain and sorrow.

Let me get something straight: I am a non-vegetarian and I eat almost every kind of meat and all of this seeing and feeling is not going to make me a vegetarian. It’s not the killing of a few goats or cows or chicken that has me upset. It’s the sheer numbers that will be slaughtered on Eid that shakes me. The numbers will across a million easily across the world.

That’s a million lives taken on one day. It’s a mass murder. And most of this meat will be wasted, or put away into storage, it will not be consumed immediately. So we aren’t killing for food but rather killing for religion, killing for what we believe in.

How is that different from what the Nazi’s did or what the jihad groups and militant groups doing? Or does the fact that they are not human lives make it ok?

I don’t have the answers and I’m still all jumbled and confused in my head and heart about Bakri Eid. I don’t know, I just don’t know whether to rejoice or drown in sorrow, I don’t know…

October 4, 2014   1 Comment

Friday Review: I & Monkey – The Resto-Lounge

***Disclaimer – I & Monkey is owned by a friend but the following review has no bias because of it. What I say is what I got and what I felt. 😉

Che and I have not done a lunch together is a long time now. Let me explain that. Considering that I don’t like cooking so much and Che is too busy to cook usually, we eat out a fair bit, however our eating out is more about getting the meal done (and at a cheap price) rather than eating a meal.

So, last Saturday when we headed out and contemplated a meal we would sit down and enjoy, I was all excited. A sit down meal together outside is like a date, filled with good food and quality time together. A time to unwind and rewind.

Cruising around Indiranagar we were trying to make up our minds on where to eat, when I saw I & Monkey and the decision was made. I’ve known Sathish who owns the place for years now and have lost count of the number of times I’ve have been to his first place Windsor Pub. But somehow even though I & Monkey has now been around for over a year I hadn’t made it here yet. It was time to correct the grave wrong and check out Sathish’s now not so new place. 😉

I walked in tentatively, not knowing what to expect and looking around to absorb it all. There were three seating areas to choose from, a tent type roofed room with warm light, a room with pub-ish decor and a bar and this little small space that was well lit with a dash of green. The host stepped up asking us where we would like to sit and I just looked at him unsure of my choice. He smiled and led us to the little white and green space that seemed perfect, I thought as I sat down, for a couple to have some together time.

It didn’t take us long to make up our minds about the thirst quenching drink. 😀 Please note we were spoiled for choice in the liquor menu but the cocktail section beckoned and before long Che and I had settled down with a Mohito and a Black Magic. I’d never had a Black Magic before but the description listed about 5 types of alcohol and blackcurrant juice as ingredients, and I was feeling adventurous. 😀

To go along with the drinks we choose Chilli Sambal Fish as a starter (after much discussion over the variety on offer). I’m not much of a fishy person but lately I’ve been experimenting and enjoying myself with fish. This one didn’t disappoint either, and it was so good Che and I almost came to blows over the last piece and were saved just in time by the flambe cart arriving.

Flambe'd Beef medallions #instagood #instafood #foodporn #freyaandme

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Yep, you guessed right, I was going to have a flambe. 😛 While Che ordered a T-bone steak, I chose Flambeed Beef Medallions as the main course. Watching the flambe was fun, as you can see in the video. 😀 But eating the resultant dish was way more fun. I enjoyed it immensely and polished off every bit.

To round off and complete the meal we decided to culminate it with dessert and coffee. Che had Tiramisu and an Americano while I had an Absolute Nirvana with a Cappuccino. Gawd that dessert really was Absolute Nirvana. I oohhed and aahhed my way through it, too full to eat it all and yet unable to stop until I had finished it all.

It was a lot, and I mean a lot coz Che and I sat there for a while before we managed to get up and move again. 😛 It was a meal I enjoyed in all the aspects, ambiance, service, flavour,… The food was so good we couldn’t rush through it and that meant some amazing time and conversation together. The bill was about 3,500 bucks but it was worth every penny.

I’m looking forward to another trip to I & Monkey, after all there is so much to sample yet on that menu. 😉 If you are looking for a place to unwind, catch up and eat some awesome food, I & Monkey is the place to go to, especially for lunch. :)

My Rating –
Ambiance – ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
Music –        ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
Food –          ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
Service –     ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
Price –         ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷

 

I & Monkey – Website & Facebook

Phone – +91 80 40923656 / +91-80-40923657

Location – Indira Nagar, 12th Main

October 3, 2014   No Comments

Video Wednesday: Because Rape is NOT Always About Sex

I had come across this documentary some time back and I remember it making me sit up. I did the usual things we do when we find things we like online; I shared it on various networks and forgot about it soon after. Then while generally surfing yesterday I found it again, only this time I found it on the makers page.

Amrit Vatsa has an interesting blog that caught my eye. He tell stories but not just in words, he tell video stories of people in all of three minutes, well mostly 3 minutes. :) He has quite a collection of 3 minute stories and you should definitely check them out. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about a story he told a while back, a story about how rape is not always about sex. Shreena and Ria have a powerful message to spread, and it is one I really like as it is about equality in it’s true sense. Every time women seem to fight for equality, we are trying to get what men already have, or do what men are already allowed.

As an idea that has disturbed me for a long time. I don’t want to constantly strive to be a man or even better than a man. I just want to be. I want to do what I want to do; not because I have to prove a point but because it make me happy. I don’t want to be a tom-boy coz I’m I am boyish. I don’t want to ride bikes because men do it, or travel alone because men can do it. I want to do all I do because I simply want to. This applies to even such mundane things as cooking and cleaning!

It’s a slightly convoluted idea but there in for me lies equality. As a child my parents never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. I was allowed to do everything my brother did and more but it wasn’t as competition of girl vs boy. There were things I was told that I was not allowed but never because I was a girl. Well, so I remember it, or maybe it was just me fighting to be me and not be labeled a girl.

So why am I sharing this video, well, because I want to push Shreena’s and Ria’s idea, I want equality for boys and girls, men and women. I’d like a world where we can just be who we are without having to fit into molds, or live up to norms of how we should be. I want to remove the definitions of man and woman and what each is allowed and not allowed. I want to see men cry openly without shame and women scratch their crotch in public without getting scorned. 😀

If the above video does not show up for you, you can click and see it on Amrit Vatsa’s Vimeo channel.

Shreena Thakore, Ria Vaidya, and Rishabh Singh run the campaign No Country For Women with the intention “to change the problematic attitude of a country toward half of its population”. They are fighting for gender equality and the removal of gender-based policing, violence and discrimination. Their work involves a lot of workshops across schools and colleges, distribution of written and audio-visual material online, and implementing effective long-term solutions. Check out their website if you would like to invite them to your school or college, have a discussion or just donate towards their idea.

What kind of a world do you want? What is your definition of equality? What did you think of the video?

October 1, 2014   4 Comments