Sep 14, 2014

A cup of filter coffee

No meal is satiating if it does not end with a cup of filter coffee for Vasundhara. No wonder; being middle aged women, she was born and brought up in an orthodox Tambrahm family. The fact that she could not get a good darshan of Sri Jagannath at Puri Dham did not bother her even more than not having a single restaurant that served a cup of filter coffee.

"Do not worry Ma'am. There are many more restaurants on our way back home. You will definitely get a cup of filter coffee", the autowallah assured her. "Let's go then", she urged him thinking of the prospect of tasting a cup of authentic filter coffee. Hailing from Kumbakonam, a temple town itself, she could not believe that Puri does not have a single shop that serves a cup of filter coffee.

On our way back to Bhubaneswar, our autowallah enquired at every chai and coffee shop that our eyes could find, but still no luck, until we came to this shop. "I will prepare a special filter coffee for you Ma'am", he replied.

He must be over fifty, but with jeans on, he looked like a man in his early forties. "Please sit while I prepare coffee for you", he said.

"Make it four, for all of us", Vasundhara ordered.

"Sure Ma'am, as you please".

While the rest were seated, Vasundhara could not contain her excitement. She watched the chaiwallah like a toddler looking at her doll. A few more people entered the shop and ordered for cups of tea.

The chaiwallah counted the number of cups to be served mentally and added a few spoons of tea powder to a pot of boiling milk. "He is making tea for other customers when I had placed an order for coffee!", she felt agitated but decided to wait as he is the only chaiwallah who agreed to prepare and serve a cup of filter coffee.

After the tea powder mixed thoroughly with milk, he added crushed elachi and ginger to make it spicy. He then filtered out the tea and transferred it into another vessel.

"How effortlessly he made this tea! I will take it next time", she thought to herself. While she was expecting that he will pour the tea on cups and serve other customers, she got shocked on seeing what the chaiwallah did next.

Taking a bottle of Nescafe, he carefully added a few spoons of coffee powder on the tea that he just filtered!

"Ma'am, here is your special filter coffee", he said handing over a cup of tea-fee.

Sep 3, 2014

Review of Private India

Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers.
"Will I be able to read 470 pages work of fiction and write a 500+ words review article within 7 days?" I questioned myself reflecting on a daunting task that I've committed to blogadda. When the neatly wrapped book finally arrived at my hand, I could not wait for a moment to start reading. As expected, the authors, Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson, did not disappoint me with their affluent writing style which made the book another page-turner. In fact, I would have finished reading the book in one-night, had there not been frequent power outage in my area.

If you are looking to read a book in a weekend or keep yourself engaged while traveling, buy a copy of Private India. "Is it that good?", you may ask. From reading point of view, yes, it is very good work. Coming to plot, the authors had tried to build suspense and thriller by introducing lots of knots, some of which are not tied in the end.

From my experience, I found that if the start is impressive, overall impression about the story will be good. It is easy for the author to keep up with the momentum once he gets a good start. In Private India, the first chapter was written so nicely that I re-read it several times. It has everything in it; a gentle start, smooth flow, a surprise murder and finally the innocence of the housekeeping in her next thought after spotting the body.

The flow through the subsequent chapters show that the authors indeed had kept up with the momentum they gained from the first chapter. Even though I have not read James Patterson's work on Private before, it is well introduced in the plot. But the authors failed to carry forward the momentum by sticking to that old cliche; police officials are dumb and private detectives are super intelligent.

Ashwin Sanghi's style could be seen when the protagonist figured out that the serial killing has a pattern similar to nine forms of Durga. But the protagonist's conclusion that the serial killer is about to wipe off entire womanhood by killing nine women who had ruined the killer's past is nothing but a hyperbole. Even more, the reason given at the end for killing some of those women is not convincing. During the conversation between the serial killer and final women to be killed, the serial killer was accounting for all the killings; Priyanka Talati, one of the women who got murdered, was murdered because she found the secret about the serial killer when they both were in Thailand. Why din't the killer kill Priyanka in Thailand itself? Why did she leave her alive with a risk of secret being spilled any moment?

Towards the end, the authors failed to tie the knots tight. I do not understand the link between Indian Mujahideen and the main plot. If the authors tried the Mujahideen angle to show even greater danger Private India is facing, my opinion is that they could have done it in a better way.

To summarize, we have read/watched umpteen novels/movies involving serial killer. How about a female serial killer then? But then, are females both physically and mentally strong enough to carry series of murders without getting caught? How about having a female serial killer who is gender reassigned to become a male? It is this idea that forms the crux of the story.
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