The Taj Conspiracy review

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Short review: If you read one book in a decade than this is the book you want to pick up. (unless you want to wait for my book to come out)

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Detailed one: I happened to visit the book launch organized by Bangalore International Center. Honestly, I was completely bowled over by the author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. What a strong hold on the subject coupled with absolute clear diction and a calm composure. Honestly, I never bought a book during the book release in the past, but this time I had to buy it was so compelling.

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So coming to the blurb (portion):

Mughal scholar Mehrunisa Khosa stumbles upon a conspiracy to destroy the Taj Mahal when she discovers the murder of the Taj supervisor, and the Quranic calligraphy on the tomb of Queen Mumtaz altered to suggest a Hindu origin of the Taj Mahal…That urban legend had always existed. Now, though, someone was conspiring to make it come true. (…more directly from her in the video below)

Never before in an Indian Fiction, I’ve read a book so well research and around the monument that defines our country. Manreet has done a lot of research on the Taj Mahal and probably might have read all the books available on it.

This is one of the best written books in the Indian Literature.

Title, cover and blurb: The title, The Taj Conspriacy, perfect for the book. Cover a little gloomy, it could have been better. Blurb could have been a little simplified and the last paragraph looks little overdone.

Plot: Murder mystery leading to the bigger conspiracy around Taj  – Bang On. You won’t find a better plot than this. Delivered to its promise. Just too good.

Setting: Agra, Delhi, Kashmir, Jaipur. Beautifully description that makes the scenes come alive.

Characterization: Mehrunisa Khosa was carved beautifully. Her appearance, intentions and strong mind does excellent justice to the character. The two cops SSP Raghav and RP Singh – well I would say, at time got confused between the two – may be because they have similar initials. There are half-a-dozen other characters that are perfectly placed in the story.

Story (and it’s structure): 10/10 – Starts with the murder (like The Da-vinci code) with a cryptic clue by the victim. The high stakes, that someone’s behind Taj to destroy or alter it, cannot get any grandeur than this. A fast paced story, set in multiple cities with beautiful twists and turns along the way it will keep you glued. Every bit of the story is just so damn good. This is one story in which I have not found any error from the technical point of view. Every bit is just perfect.

Writing style/language/misc: Awesome writing style. At times, the author did use the heavy words that slows down the pace. Towards the end, I couldn’t visualize what’s happening within the different rooms and the garden of Taj Mahal. (tip to the author: Show don’t tell). But that’s ok, these things can be ignored in the Majestic book.

Out an out, a face paced thriller that will also educate you about the Taj Mahal and leave you to read more…

Go buy it.

Manreet Ma’m, you’re hardworking, skillful and gifted. Eagerly waiting for your next one.

 

Rating 4.5/5

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Melbourne wishlist (top 5)

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I have a special connection with Melbourne, even though I am yet to visit the magical city. It was year 2000, when I was offered my first overseas job and it was in Melbourne. I was delighted. While scouting around, I manage to grab two more offers – one in Michigan and another one in California, USA. But I was very sure, that Melbourne is the place I want to be.

But call it fate, there was a bubble-burst, a dotcom bubble. The company, who was eager to get me to Melbourne started refusing my calls. So did the two US companies, thanks to bubble burst the world learned a big lesson.

My romance with the city started like any other Indian, thanks to MCG.  In the school, I’ve learnt that Melbourne scored 1st spot as the Most Livable city on the Planet.

So here’s my 5 item Melbourne wishlist

1. Great Ocean Walk tour – On the first day itself, I would love to take this Great Ocean Walk tour. Have heard about this couple of years back and since then it has become the 1st entry in my wish list for Melbourne. Check out the trailer below.

2. MCG – Need I say more? Well let me tell you a bit, it’s the 10th largest stadium in the world. If I am there, I wish to catch a one-day tie between India and Australia. If that’s not happening, I would equally love to watch a AFL (Australian Football League) match.

3. Federation Square (popularly known as Fed Square) – It’s definitely one of the largest public places in the world. When it opened in 2002 to public, many Australians termed it as one of the most ugliest buildings. But it turns out, it’s the #2 tourist spot. Would like to observe the various free Galleries that it offers and of course shopping, dining and entertainment.

4. Queen Victoria Market – What should I say about this Shopping Mecca.  I would like to take foodie tours to know the nuances and history about the market. Being a vegetarian, I believe it will be a visual treat to see so many fruits and veggies with different colors, shapes and aromas.

5. Crown Casino – This is Melbourne’s answer to Las Vegas. Lights, Grandeur, fireworks, lots of shows and Gaming (read Gambling). Would like to spend the whole night in the complex to soak in the Material world 🙂

Apart from these five, I would love to do shopping across various stores in Melbourne for my 3 yr old girls and dear wifey. If I happened to bump in to Brett Lee, I would ask him to bowl against me. There are probably 1,000 more things, but the five important once I would cover for sure.

So hope Tourism Victoria can fulfill my wishes. Here’s the link to know more about Melbourne. http://www.visitmelbourne.com/in

This is an entry to Indiblogger contest. Indibloggers vote here.

PS: Bollywood has a special relation with Melbourne. Click here to know more.

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Reposting wifey’s blog

pulsingthoughts

That was the last time i saw her she was bright orange and beautiful brown. She was soft and in her lap i had wonderful dreams and sweet sleep. She was safe and fun too. She was my first cot. So cried my little dolly(edited by me of course!)……….as i comforted her!

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It was a sunny day and the world outside was fun but not for my three year old as she saw her cot being disassembled and carted off to strangers.

Her eyes brimming with tears she was inconsolable and her emotion reflected mine.

That was one of the first items i had bought for my first born. I still remember the day when i strolled into the shop saw the baby cot and instantly knew my child had to have that. Along with it i also bought some accessories, a musical chime , some soft toys and fun…

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the thermocol ball

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I was giving finishing touches to the slide deck in my study when my 3 year old sweetheart came up and said, “Baba see this…”

I ignored her as I was completely engrossed.

She said, “Can I eat this?”

That was ‘khatre ki ghanti’ and I looked at  her.

“Where did you get that?” I asked curiously.

“Gareema gave me.”

Gareema and Deeksha are my twin daughters.

I stopped everything and went straight to the living room, couldn’t believe what I saw.

“Gareemaaaaa,” somehow these Indian names that ends with a vowel adds a lot more punch when you scream.

Anyways, the reason for my scream, she turned the bean bag upside down, had open the chain and was taking out small thermocol balls from it.

Looking at me, she stopped for a moment. But Gareema being Gareema, she started pulling out those tiny balls at a rapid speed with a giggle. Observing this reaction from her sister, Deeksha joined her and both of them started pulling while they looked at my furious look. Soon, the bean bag was empty.

They continue to giggle and then they started throwing those balls in the air. I couldn’t resist the fun they were having, instead of stopping them, I joined in. I too started flying thermocol in the air. I picked those tiny ones and one by one showered on both of them. They copied that and showered me with those balls. Deeksha then put some of them in my t-shirt and started laughing. Gareema joined in and soon they made me look like a big fat Santa.

At that time, my phone rang. It was wifey. She started with the standard question, “How are these girls doing?”

I said, “They are fine….. they are just …………..drawing with crayons…. ”

“Ok, I will be back in another 10 minutes. bye.” She kept the phone.

Gosh, I thought, I have to clean up this mess before she arrives otherwise all of us had it for that day.

I said to to the girls clapping, “Ok…. ok….. mama is coming….. let’s clean up… fast…”

Girls promptly changed and started singing the nursery rhyme in unison while cleaning up, “Clean up… clean up… everybody do yourself… Clean up…”

We manage to put the thermocol back in the bean bag few seconds before the mama arrived at the door.

“Babies….” she said, “How are you?”

Deeksha (Another MKGandhi in the making) said, “Mama, we cleaned up everything. We were playing with small balls”

“Hmm…Wow,” She didn’t bother to clarify, “Look what I’ve got for  you”

All of them went inside to look what Mama has got for them. I took a deep breath and looked at the light purple bean bag that had a logo of Surf Excel. I won that bean bag by answering one of the question in the Indiblogger meet. I remembered the event…

Aug 4th 2012 – Hotel Capitol

“Let’s park there,” Wifey pointed to the empty slot in parking lot of the Hotel. I parked and walked inside the Hotel where Indiblogger meet was supposed to start. I chose indiblogger meet over the event at Google India, because at Indiblogger meet, I could my wifey. I was in a dilemma, whether I made a mistake because being at the event at Google India would gave me a little more insight in the Tech world (I am a hardcore techie – just to remind you). But boy what an event it turned out to be.

It started with the introduction round. Wow, what an interesting, fun and touching round it was. I heard the stories that made me laugh, cry and inspired.

I remember the guy who gave a funniest introduction ever. He had attended all the Indibloggers meet and complained about the black and white color t-shirts that indiblogger gave it to him.

In another introduction, a woman said, “my family doesn’t know that a gifted artist is living among them,” was the most hilarious line spoken in the event.

I was touched by the stories of a surviving cancer patient and a handsome young blogger – who blogs on the experiences of getting blind.

Some interesting stories from a girl who worked in India’s best company yet find her job – boring. Another was of a hardcore writer, who wrote only for himself and didn’t want anyone’s approval.

During introduction some questions were being asked, me and wifey were quick to answer and in no time – we had two bean bags in our kitty.

Group games started. We were playing ball again. All of us were taken back to the age when all of us were kids. So much fun.

At the end of the games, Yippie my team (orange) won. Guess what, I was rewarded with a Samsung DVD player.

click on the picture to view all the event photos

The high tea had some sumptuous sandwiches and delicious finger food.

It followed by a detail and humorous session by Surf Excel brand manager Mr. Nair on ‘Why the washing machine was the best invention of the century?’ and also about How new Surf Excel with vibrating molecules is the most improved washing powder of this day.

At the end, new relationships were forged, smiles were exchanged and the experience were etched in our brains for long time to come.

This was one of the best days of my life because

  • we brought home a car full of goodies
  • 4 tshirts
  • 2 kg surf excel
  • 2 bean bags – a light purple ones. Girls love playing with them.
  • 1 Big Gift hamper that contain a big Dove shampoo, a big Dove Conditioner, a perfume, a body lotion and a hand wash.
  • and most important of all a samsung DVD player.

The DVD player has USB, so now we watch most of the movies directly by connecting a USB drive in to the DVD player. We have now lined up 50 movies to watch.

But the most important gift from this #SoakNoMore Indiblogger meet is my wifey got back the inspiration to write. She created a blog and till date she has more than dozen entries already in her blog.

Thank you Indiblogger and thank you all the people behind SurfExcel #SoakNoMore  meeting.
PS: for all social media enthusiast – #SoakNoMore and #Indiblogger were top trending topics on twitter on Aug 4th and Aug 5th. A perfect social media campaign.

Indibloggers click here to promote