Sunday, September 30, 2007

Go Book shopping in Pune!

For a Book lover, who is obsessed with books (yeah, they are different things), it is important to know the best Book shops in town and when they hold their Sale. So one can plan the purchase. Therefore, for the benefit of all book lovers in Pune, today I would share information on where to shop for books in Pune. Trust me I have been to almost all of them and I always keep looking for Sale and good bargains.

Check out my list. I am sure it will benefit you.

Crosswords: They have their Annual Book Sale somewhere in August – September every year.

- ICC Trade Towers, Senapati Bapat Road (one of the biggest and best in Pune; they also have a BRIO outlet inside the Store, so that you can have good coffee while you read)

- Sohrab Hall, Junction of RBM-Cannaught Road, Behind Pune Railway Station (last time I went there, there was a CCD outlet inside the store. Because you never know what could happen over coffee!)

- Renaissance, J.M.Road, Near McDonalds (you can also check out bargains outside this Crossword)

- E-Square, University Road (It is inside the multiplex, so that you can browse through some good books while you wait for your show)

- City Pride, Kothrud ( almost all the major multiplexes in Pune have Crossword inside, so as to give you value for your time)

- Supreme Centre, Near Ozone, Aundh (It is that tunnel kind of store—unidirectional, but houses a lot of books. So when you are shopping for groceries next door in Ozone, pick some books and magazines for weekends)

- Premiere Plaza, Next to McDonalds, Chinchwad (I think this is the only Crossword store in Pune, where I have not been. It has opened recently for the book lovers in Pimpri-Chinchwad)

- Gold Adlabs, Kalyaninagar (another one in one of the biggest Multiplexes in Pune. Good Movies. Good Books. Good Shopping at Lifestyle next door! What else can you ask for?

Landmark: Address: (Next to Dorabjee's), Opposite Magnum Mall, Moledina Road, Camp.
I personally think Landmark is amazing. It is exhaustive and thorough. You have books for every topic. For example, in Crossword you have general section of Fiction or Indian Fiction. Landmark has sections called Humour also. It is much easier to locate a book. Usually, Landmark runs a Book Sale in the month of September – October. Actually, they are running one right now, which is on till 2nd October ‘07. They keep their Sale low key, for whatever reasons. Also, for those who think it is Expensive to buy books from shops, there’s a book stall right outside the Landmark, where you get loads of books in bargain prices.

The Word Book shop: Address: Boottee Street, Camp Pune, Tel.: 2631214 / 2633118.
I have heard that this book shop had catered to the Pune Book lovers, much before the Crosswords and Landmark came into picture. It always stocked the best books of the season. It has a loyal set of customers. The owners give their personal attention to the shop and are willing to source the books, if it is not available already. It carries 10% discount throughout the year.

Book World: Address: Basement, Sagar Arcade, Fergusson College Road.
It is a small Book Corner, not really a shop experience here. Books are stacked from floor to roof. But they have huge collection. You can go there only if you know it is there. But it is worth visiting, as I have always found any book on any topic here. It is almost inconspicuous in its presence. You might also get some second hand books in this place, if you want to save some money. There is also a book corner, right outside its entrance, where you can get some bargain buys. Supposedly, Book World also holds an Annual Sale, promising 10-15% Discounts; but I don’t know when they do that. Need to keep a close watch there!

Hong Kong Lane: Address: Near Garware Bridge, Opp. Chitale Bandhu, Deccan Gymkhana.
If you want to buy or sell second hand books, then you have to check out Hong Kong lane. It has a small corner, where several popular books are piled up. Those who do not know what to do with the books you have already read but do not really want to keep; then look no further. Come to Hong Kong lane, sell your old books and get yourself new ones.

Danai Bookshop: Address: Taj Blue Diamond, Bund Garden Road. Tel.: 2625555.
It is a small Book shop in one of the city’s 5-star hotels. Mostly, it attracts the Blue Diamond crowd and people from Koregaon Park or Osho Ashram—mostly the foreigners. It is done up in classic White, which gives it an aura of its own. It is a small place for just picking up something off the shelf. Don’t expect to find any particular book here. But yes, they do have lots of international magazines, quite aptly; considering that they get a lot of crowd for those.

Popular Bookshop: Address: Deccan Gymkhana, Tel.: 25678327.
It is a small bookshop on the intersection signal, which joins JM Road, FC Road and Bhandarkar Road. If you have seen Chitale Bandhu of Deccan, just keep walking towards FC Road, on your left handside is Popular Bookshop. It also stocks popular Hindi and Marathi books. This air-conditioned bookshop enjoys a loyal clientele over the years and even 3rd and 4th generation customers visit the shop often. The Shop supposedly runs a Sale during Diwali every year, and they also have Bargain Counters where books are sold at half the price. So check out this cozy, little Book Shop in Diwali. I know I am going to.

International Book Service: Address: S No 759/5, Deccan Gymkhana.Tel: 25677405.
It is one of the favorites with Puneites, who love its old world charm. It stocks books on all topics but you would not find the luxury of lounging here. It recently completed 70 years and enjoys the attention of a set of loyal customers. Only problem is that it is closed in afternoons and on Sundays. Well, I am yet to check out this book shop but I think it is going to be worth visiting. So, here I come!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Books I want to Read

I am grateful that finally I am catching up on my reading. I recently finished “For Matrimonial Purposes” by Kavita Daswani. It was the story of a girl who wants to get married. She is a typical girl, in many a sense, but she is not your common type, in many ways as well. She wants to get married to a decent Indian guy chosen by her parents, alright; but she wants to really like him (although may not really love him). It is important for her to get married to the right guy—right for her. In this pursuit, she looks at every Indian, marriageable guy, as her prospective groom and when it does not turn out to be the way she thought, she is left heart broken. Yes, with every guy! Well, if you look around isn’t this the case with modern, educated Indian guy or girl. It is not always that you fell in love with somebody and proceed towards marriage. Many times we do not come across any such person in our entire 25 to 30 years of lives! Quite possible!

The story is not hilarious; it is real. It is a story which you see everywhere. So, I kind of liked it. Thank God, the girl found a guy in the end and they lived happily ever after, whatever!

Right now, I am reading “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid. This book is very different in its narration. The narrator is talking to an American tourist and doing that, he is taking the reader through his experiences. The story is set against the 9/11 attacks and how it changed the lives of Muslims around the world, more so of those in America. I have read more than half of the novel, and I really want to read the author’s first book also called “Moth Smoke”. It is supposedly an acclaimed book and has won several Awards. I get a little scared to read an Award winning book. Most of the times, I do not understand it. Take the example of “Life of Pi”. I tried really hard but I could not finish it.

Well, anyways, I have tried to put together a list of books which I would like to read in near future:

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid
Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (His “Kite Runner” was fabulous)
Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn (Haven’t read a good Thriller since ages)
Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch
Mahatma vs. Gandhi by Dinkar Joshi (which is supposed to be the basis for the movie “Gandhi, My father)
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
A Crowded Marriage by Catherine Alliott
Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen by Sethu Ramaswamy
Can you Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why we love India

I am not a religious person but I do connect with God. So I tend to believe that I am a spiritual person. During these festivities of Ganesh Utsav, I really did not participate in any of the celebrations. But this Monday, when I saw the Visarjan ceremony, I had a weird feeling, a sense of loss. I did not celebrate, but I would miss all the celebrations which were happening all around.

I often wonder why we love India! I mean look at the roads, look at the education system, look at the competition for few seats, look at the politicizing of each and every issue, look at the frame to frame copy of foreign movies, look at the social and economic gap, look at the disturbance on Border areas (and not only Kashmir), look at disturbing instances of violence in the name of caste and religion, look at career opportunities (or the lack of it), look at increasing crime, look at eve-teasing; Why do we love India? Then I thought, may be this is it. May be because we have so many gods, castes , religion and festivals. May be because we know how to celebrate together. May be we know how really one should celebrate. It just gets on you. Even if you ignore it, can you really stay away from it? If you are a Bengali in Maharashtra or a Keralite in Kolkata—you would still celebrate Durga Puja!

Add to that the recent victory of India in Twenty20 World Cup. I still believe that nothing bonds us better than Cricket! We still have different festivals but Cricket is undoubtedly the common thread that joins us all together. Look at me, I am not really a Cricket person but this game is so infectitious that you cannot ignore it for long, and definitely not an India-Pakistan match for sure. So, there I was watching the Grand Finale of Twenty20 World Cup. Well, I am sure all of you must have heard the bang of the chocolate bombs after we won the match, no matter which part of the country you were in!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On a special journey called Life

I just realized how under-traveled I am! I have not even seen India completely, forget about abroad. My first real tour was when I was in class sixth; we went to Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan, Lucknow, Delhi, Shimla, Chandigarh and Delhi. I was quite young then but I remember everything clearly. Undoubtedly, I loved Shimla, the best. I just love mountains. I remember there were so many monkeys when we were going up to see this temple called Jhakhu Mandir in Shimla. It is supposed to be the highest peek there, and the view was lovely from the top. I remember the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, I remember that wonderful park at Pinjaur, I remember the person sitting outside the Qutub Minar with a huge snake, I remember the bada and chhota Imambada of Lucknow, I remember the Mall road of Shimla, I remember Columbus of Appu Ghar; yet I feel every city has so much to see that covering so many cities in 15 days is the same as not seeing them at all. I had been on this tour with my parents, my grand-parents and my brother. Our second tour was down South. We saw Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore, Tirupati, Ooty and Coonnoor. I just loved Ooty and Coonnoor too much. They were heavenly. It is something to do with Hill stations. It was lovely. I went with my parents to all these wonderful places. I remember the Tea and Coffee gardens of Ooty, the zero-visibility foggy roads of Coonnoor, the unpolluted Tirupati, the amazing Mysore palace and a bit of Bangalore. I discovered Bangalore more when I stayed there for sometime. Well, to think of it, I have not been that unlucky after all. I have had the privilege of staying in three Metros – Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. Can you beat this? Well, to go slightly off-track, city exposure did wonders for my self-confidence. I used to be over-awed by city life. I always had this feeling how would I adjust? In fact, it all started with moving out of home for my Graduation. I had the first brush with freedom and independent life. It was my first journey out of home alone. Those three years prepared me for life ahead. Of course, there was much more to come. Post graduation, I moved to Chennai to stay with my brother. Those 6 months were amazing. Nobody really likes Chennai. I mean people from other parts of India. They would prefer other places to Chennai, any given day. I liked Chennai. It was kind of conservative yet a metro. It is much cheaper than any other Metro and if you love South Indian food, you don’t need to look beyond! My next destination was Bangalore. I did not really see the entire Bangalore but the fact that I used to move around alone, taught me several things. Bangalore, for me, is all about Udupi restaurants, cyber cafes and several hopes and dreams. I was preparing for CAT at that time. I really learnt using internet in this place. In fact, I stayed all alone in Bangalore for 15 days. It was scary initially. What if I needed something in the middle of the night? I knew nobody there, absolutely nobody! It was from Bangalore that I did my first long distance train journey alone. I learnt all the now-seeming simple things like doing reservations in train or making a demand draft. Yeah! Joining IMDR in Pune really made me a metropolitan at heart. I used to be overwhelmed by even Pune earlier. But now it seems like a second home. It’s nice and relaxed. I think life is nowhere even close to what it is here. Chilled Out! Its here that I had the real campus life experience—my first late nights, first instance of being on my own, my first Scooty, this Blog, my first visit to a real disc, my first Film Festival and many more firsts. I loved every bit of it. When college days came to an end and I landed in dream job in Mumbai, I could not have asked for more. But, well, I never really liked Mumbai. I don’t know why. Today I regret only one thing. I did not SEE Mumbai properly. It is an amazing city, whatever I might say. There is always one thing or the other happening (and I am not talking about Bomb blasts and Flood). I did not see Prithvi Theatres, I could not check out the Strand Book Sale, I missed out on “Class of 84”, I could not go to King’s Circle for Books, I did not see Colaba flea market and so many things. But I chose to move out, so I am not really complaining. But yeah, it all boils down to What next? The latest trip was to, well, Life’s finest Abode! Yes, the Aamby valley. It was a heavenly experience. The peace, the tranquility, the unabused atmosphere, everything about Aamby valley is such that you would want to get in a cozy cottage and spend some days of sanctity, away from the hustle and bustle of crowd. Well, I was sure lucky to be there. Everything said and done, I still think I am highly under-traveled. I want to travel more, see all the beautiful and amazing places—in India and then abroad. That’s what life is all about. Isn’t it? After all, life is a journey in itself.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'll be there for you!!!

Well, as Joey says –How you doin’? I don’t know whether how many of you have been fan of this show but if you have seen it, the chances are you have fallen for it. My own friends would vouch for the fact that I have become obsessed with FRIENDS!

I discovered F*R*I*E*N*D*S quite recently. By the time I saw the first episode of FRIENDS, the curtain had already drawn on the Grand Finale of the Tenth Season; and the lovable cast had moved on with their lives.

By now, I have seen almost all the Seasons, laughed at Chandler’s one-liners, smiled at Ross’ sweetness, empathized with Monica’s idiosyncrasies, stumped by Phoebe’s matter-of-factness and bowled over by the sheer charm of Rachel and Joey. Basically, they are all cute and independently very good. In fact, I loved them so much that I tried looking for bits and pieces beyond the episodes—how this sitcom was put together, how the cast stuck to each other through anonymity to fame, how they created a history of sorts by striking deals as a group; moving from 30,000 $ per episode to 2.5 million $ per episode for each of them. Everything about FRIENDS is now a case study in itself. It is said that after the phenomenal and unexpected success of FRIENDS, many such sitcoms sprung up; but what works for one may not work for others. Look at our own “Ram Gopal Verma ki Sholay / Aag”.

I just bought this Coffee table book on Friends titled “Friends 'Til the End: The Official Celebration of All Ten Years” by David Wild. Yeah, I bought a coffee table book! So what? Haven’t I already established that I am obsessed with all kinds of books! And come on, it was only for 399 bucks. I think it was a great deal. After all, FRIENDS TV show is one among the Hall of Fame now, and one should know about the making of such all time great comedy. It has so many pictures of the moments from all the Seasons and some behind the camera moments that I could not stop myself from having it. I still cannot stop wondering what really does it take to create a genius like that. Of course, the fact that it was taken off air when it was still popular, is part of the reason why we still drool over it. Just look at our band of K-serials and how they keep on having generation leaps and disturbing twists and turns to the original story. Can you imagine, what this lovely Sitcom would have become, had they given in to the popularity of the show? There is definitely a learning from here. Even when something is working, you should know when to stop. Nothing is sacrosanct. If you do not bow out, you would be kicked out. It takes a lot of wisdom to identify the right moment and a lot of heart to take that decision.

I remember, even when I had not heard about Friends, I had known Jennifer Aniston as a Hollywood actress and had vaguely heard about Courtney Cox. But I had no clue about the rest of the cast. Look at me now, I eat and drink Friends now. If I am home, I would either be reading the Friends book or you would catch me watching one of the Seasons. In the FRIENDS book, they talk about when they realize that FRIENDS had become a phenomenon. Look at me, I come from a small place in Jharkhand; and I totally freak out on FRIENDS. Do I need to say any more what popularity this lovable sitcom has achieved?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Introspective wanderings

I am a writer at heart at least that is what I like to believe. I like to believe that before you become a good writer, you need to become a voracious reader.
How many times it has happened to you that you have read a book and marveled at the knowledge of the writer? How many times you have read a novel and it has touched you deep inside and left you wondering how it is possible to define an emotion so beautifully? And how many times you have been filled with awe by the sheer genius of an author in describing a moment? Well, since I am an aspiring writer, these days I also look at what is the style of a narration and how has the story been told. In fact, I also know what kind of books I want to write. I have found a writer of my own taste. I have devoured four of her books and only two other are yet to be read. I am just dying to lay my hands on them. The stories are engrossing and deliciously funny. There are at least hundred instances when you empathise with the character, frankly speaking, most of the girls would feel one with the character. Well, all of us are born Shopaholics, aren’t we! Well, if you have ever read any of the books in Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, you would know what I am talking about. I love her style and would like to write like her. Of course, I would like to be known for my own style but you know it always help to define your objective.

Today I was into my one of those introspective modes. I was thanking God for a decent Appraisal, and then suddenly I realized that there are actually so many things which I should be thankful about. Look around and you would find most of the people unhappy about one thing or the other. Some of them have been unfortunate in marriage. Some have been unlucky in their careers. Some are cribbing about the tons of responsibilities thrown on them at a young age. Some have lost the purpose of living. And of course, there are millions of people suffering in poverty and destitute. When you look at all these, you suddenly realize what a blessing your own life is! And here, you were cribbing about how much more your salary should have been, how much better life partner you could have chosen, how your friends are settled in U.S and how better others’ lives are! Frankly, there is no end to it. You would always find something to cry about. Nobody is supposed to be perfect; nobody is supposed to have a flawless life. I strongly believe all of us have our share of happiness and sorrows. You cannot just compare your house with the Bungalow your friend has, because you never know he must be struggling to make his two ends meet after paying loads of EMIs for that lovely bungalow. So why not be thankful about all the good things in life. Come on, all of us have something to be happy about. So keep smiling and feel blessed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Way Forward

Sometimes I feel totally hopeless. Where do I go from here? What next? I have a nice job for sure but I do not see a career here. May be 2 years at the most, then what next? I never planned my career. Yeah, I had a vague idea that I want to be in a creative field. I did Advertising for a year then moved on to this job. Here I do communication for my product & Company. Of course, Wipro has an entirely separate Corporate Communication group, but if we need to do any communication at our level, I do it or coordinate for it. It is a great learning experience. Right now, I am so excited about the response on my Direct Mailer, which we did for our new catalog. We have already got 10% response and its increasing day by day. Then we have gone online with the same Concept and the opportunities on web are overwhelming. There is so much one can do and we are slowly modifying our website to meet our needs. I am also setting up an Outbound Call Centre for my company, which would be followed by an Inbound Toll Free Number. I have absolutely no experience in Telecalling initiative but even nobody else has in my company, so I am learning as I do it.
My funda about a job is simple. There should be enough Learning and Excitement that you want to come back to work everyday. When that does not happen, you need to find out the reasons why it is not working out. And if the case is completely hopeless, you need to let it go. Till the time I have opportunities to learn and do something exciting, I am all for it, otherwise it is time to move on!
I always dreamt of becoming a writer. I still do. But along with writing, I have noticed an inherent knack of Editing in myself. I cannot help edit or correct whatever I read. It just comes naturally to me. I do not have to try hard. May be editing would be “The” Career for me. Who knows!