Daily Archives: February 17, 2012

A Mouthful Of Heaven

Crisp, crunchy puri made of maida, not sooji.
Thick, clotted tamarind-date chutney, sweet and sour both at once.
Chilled, green, spicy mint water
A handful of mashed potatoes, boiled watana & white chana.

I could die happy.

* Also served at Plain Salted.

BarCamp Mumbai On 19 Feb @ MPSTE, VileParle West

All of 2011 went by without my being able to be part of a single unconference. Which is why I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Sunday, 19th February 2012, will see the first BarCamp Mumbai of 2012.

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of unconferences, these are completely democratic gatherings of minds, coming together to share and discuss their ideas on various things. BarCamp in its early days, was an open forum on technology, especially the IT & networking end of it. BlogCamp emerged as a specialized community from within the BarCamp framework. This space has seen much discussion and evolution through the course of various BlogCamps.

I’m going to be attending a BarCamp after nearly 4 years. The agenda has evolved considerably, to keep up with what’s hot and new in thinking minds. A quick look at the sessions list promises that the day will touch on restaurant reviewing, origami, online communities, yoga, urban commuting and graphology among other things. These will continue to be added on, as more participants sign up.

Here are the things you can do at BarCamp:

  • Listen to speakers talk about their pet subjects
  • Interrupt with questions, opposition or related thoughts
  • Juggle between sessions, rooms & speakers, walking in and out whenever you like
  • Hear your favorite temperamental blogger speak
  • Talk about something that you like
  • Connect with other people with similar interests, tastes or opinions
  • Have a lot of fun!

And just in case you missed the bold, underlined hint above, I’m going to be addressing a session on something close to my heart these days – Social Content. 🙂

Here are the details:

BarCamp Mumbai February 2012

Date: Sunday, 19 February 2012
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Place: Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management and Engineering,
Along the Mithibai-NM college road, Vileparle West, Mumbai
Facebook: Confirm your attendance and invite others.
Wiki: Register your session and check out the agenda so far.

7 Secrets Of Shiva: A Religious Textbook, Not A Myth-Analysis

This is a book review for BlogAdda. The blurb of ‘7 Secrets of Shiva‘ by Devdutt Pattanaik says,

“Smeared with ash
Draped in animal hide
He sits atop the snow-capped mountain
Skull in hand
Withdrawn, with dogs for company
Destroying the world with his indifference
He is God who the Goddess shall awaken
His name is Shiva

Locked in his stories, symbols and rituals are the secrets of our ancestors. This book attempts to unlock seven.

This is not the first time I’ve read Dr.Pattanaik’s work. I immensely enjoyed ‘The Pregnant King‘ and ‘Jaya‘ enjoys a place of prominence on my windowsill book collection. I’ve also been following his articles and blogposts.

A lot of things draw me to Dr.Pattanaik’s writings. I have a dispassionate relationship with religion, customs and the concept of God & gods. I find it tiresome to labour through the reverence & perceptions that those of religious fervour, add to them. Most writing on religion reads like a priest’s preaching. I want to read about faith, belief & customs from an objective perspective and not from inside a “You must revere this or DIE!” mindset. All that I’ve read of Dr.Pattanaik’s writing so far, has matched that need. It has been refreshing to read his thoughts and even old stories, expressed without a fundamentalist ‘This is a God so we don’t question anything he/she does.’ attitude. I’m afraid 7 Secrets Of Shiva did not convey as much to me. It was as dry and preachy as the aforementioned religious treatises that I’ve taken much care to avoid.

Secondly, the other books I mentioned (Jaya & The Pregnant King) contained a fair degree of the author’s own analysis of beliefs. His articles often carry forward an idea from mythology and apply it to realities of our modern times. But 7 Secrets of Shiva seems to be no more than a collation of several floating stories about Shiva, with no sign of the author’s objective intellect showing.

There is a definite difference in tone from his earlier writing and this book. I used to think of Dr.Pattanaik as a keen, scientific observer of beliefs, myths and their relationship with human cultures.His earlier writing felt like a conversation between one intelligent, rational mind and another. But 7 Secrets of Shiva makes me feel like a stern-faced, elderly priest is frowning down on me while preaching from his dusty, religious texts.

Most notably, every Pattanaik work I’ve read so far has been beautifully illustrated by his own simple, distinctive sketches. I couldn’t find a single one in 7 Secrets of Shiva. Instead the book contains plenty of black and white photographs & paintings. The starkness of this is only compounded by a large font size, the kind you usually see in children’s books. Where is the quality I’ve come to expect from a Pattanaik book?

I get the feeling that I’m not the intended audience for this book. Perhaps it is a book for those completely unfamiliar with Hindu mythology and want a ready primer on the Shiva myth. Even so, I would rather recommend a simple Amar Chitra Katha over the dry, heavy tome that is 7 Secrets of Shiva. For the first time in my reading life, Dr.Devdutt Pattanaik disappoints.

Here are three other BlogAdda book reviews:

  • MyChocoletHandbag details each of the 7 secrets and why she was disappointed by the book.
  • ForeverInBlueJeans says that book is well-written but that she isn’t the right audience for it.
  • TellAStory appears to have liked the book and he too details the 7 secrets.
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