Friday, November 16, 2012

Zombiestan - Book Review

Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar

Title: Zombiestan
Author: Mainak Dhar
Publisher: Duckbill
Pages: 256

Buy Zombiestan

If you thought you've had enough with Vampires, now make way for Zombies. Mainak Dhar takes you through a journey that starts with a village in Afghanistan, which houses the Taliban. Hell breaks loose when the Taliban leader Mullah Omar is shot dead by unknown forces. This is followed by an apocalyptic blast which causes genetic mutations thus causing people in the area to turn into Zombies.

This phenomenon nicknamed Afghan Flu spreads like wildfire across the globe and in a matter of three days close 50,000 people are affected. Doctors identify fatal levels of radiations and toxins in the blood samples of infected victims. To make things worse; Governments topple, anarchy thrives, the undead or the zombies are everywhere and mayhem ensues.

The story revolves around five unlikely people who meet each other in the worst circumstances in New Delhi. A US Navy SEAL trying to get back home, a seventeen year old boy grappling with the loss of his parents, an elderly History Professor, a young girl and her three year old brother.

As soon as the sun set every day, hordes of Afghan Flu victims went on rampage biting anybody in their line of sight and thus infecting them. These people died only to come alive as undead in evenings. The terror was too real to be palpable. The tribe of zombies only seemed to increase manifold with no end in sight.

Amidst this, the five of them seem to be fighting a lone war against the zombies. They move from one place to another in search of a safe haven where the zombies cannot attack them.  They try to protect themselves against the zombies using firearms, only to realize that nothing can actually kill them. Even striking them on their heads could bring them down for a couple of minutes after which they bounced back.

Every night was a fight against the Zombies and during one of their narrow escapes, Abhi is bitten. They don’t realize it until the next morning. When Abhi doesn’t turn into one a zombie, it takes them by surprise. They don’t have the heart to leave the little one along.

They were fighting for what seemed to be a lost cause, until they meet a retired Army officer who gives them shelter and that’s when they receive a radio broadcast which informs them of a safe place in Ladakh. The five of them, then embark on an arduous journey to safe guard themselves.

Around the same time, the Zombies start evolving at a rapid pace; they learn to group themselves, use firearms and also write. Humans are incapacitated even more, rendering themselves pretty useless against the zombies. Abhi is now hailed at the Miracle Boy; the boy who survived the bite and dint turn into a zombie. He is the proverbial ray of hope to the survivors and the zombies want him.

Whether they survive the zombie attack, win over the zombies or succumb to the miseries is the rest of the story.

The book is a real page turner, as every page holds a surprise. The write is very crisp and taut. There are a few loose edges here and there; there is no clear description about what triggered the chemical blast and how the zombies evolved over time.  But the rest of the plot is really good.

It not only talks about testing times of the protagonists but also brings about the best in them. The characterization of each of them is noteworthy.

On the whole, the book is worth a read, and I would definitely recommend it!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

And Then

I quit. I did, I did, I did. Yeah just like that, I quit. You figured that I was kidding about the just like that part right?  I mean, control freaks don’t quit jobs on a whim, they always have backup plans. Finally, after two months of editing, and reediting a one line resignation letter I quit.

Sometime in June, after clearing three rounds of interviews with the One-Number Company for the post of a Brand Manager, I was all set to put down my papers and say thank you very much and walk out. But the One-Number company’s Big Boss had other plans, he felt I was too young to take up so much responsibility and I did not have sufficient experience. That day I wailed like I had just lost a loved one, wailed like I wanted the earth to swallow me right there, wailed like I wanted to pull out every single strand of hair.

On the 1st of June, that Brand Manager Job that went down the drain was the redemption song I sung to myself every night; it was the proverbial light at the end of a long precarious tunnel, it was my little secret. Obviously, I was broken when my reverie shattered to smithereens. You would have gone through the same, if you endured workplace harassment for an entire year.

I still wanted to quit, without a backup or any idea what I’d want to do with my life.

I really did not want to write all this, but I had to vent it out somewhere.

I don’t know if the company tried a rescue mission of sorts on me, the HR convinced me to move into another team. I had nothing to lose. In the hindsight, hanging around for 5 more months was the sanest thing I did. I wouldn’t say they were great, but I would have been a happier human being if I could summon my lost confidence and sense of well being to have made a better impact.

The place has been an eye-opener of sorts in terms of; people, culture and politics. I’ve realized that people can be bad and *this* bad. Until then, I would have never known that second-rung people like Senior Analysts can wield the power to ruin your life. Ok, not just my life, he meted out the same treatment for two other colleagues as well.

Come to think of it, I’ve stayed here for 2years short by 9 days and that’s an achievement in itself taking into consideration all that I’ve endured. It really did feel like somebody was clearing my misconceptions about corporate life, I was at the receiving end of a lot of unfairness.
What have I gained over the last couple of years? I have gained a lot of weight, 10 kilos in 2yrs. I lost my peace of mind and almost lost my sense of humor thanks to a dementor. I learnt to copy paste and format like a pro!

Ok sarcasm apart, yes I did learn a little bit of Data Analysis, but other than that, it’s been an inwards journey in search of my real self.  If I need to add another point, my CV has a stable track record of working in the same company for 2yrs now.

I have changed a lot as an individual; I’ve lost a lot of hair, and saw a couple of grey hair sprouting as well.  Apart from this; I’m a much stronger, saner and sensible woman today, who has finally accepted the harsh realities of life. Now I cherish and value every little moment of joy and I really did come around as an individual.

Finally, I’ve made peace with solitude.

I’m glad that I quit now. Life has come around and things are looking up. Most importantly, I’m not half as depressed.

Right now, I’m on the threshold of change and good tidings. I’m at peace with myself now, I actually feel like Buddha sometimes.

My version of Eat, Pray, Love is just around the corner!

Wish me luck

Peace Out!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Perfect Mini Tamasha

Every little occasion in a family is a little Tamasha in itself. When people meet; conversations happen, gossip flows freely, sparks fly and drama is inevitable!

To concoct the Perfect Mini Tamasha, you will need the following ingredients


An entire week of work commitments
3 Hyperventilating people
3 Best Friends, who will double up as pacifiers
3 Days full of nail biting tension
1 Brother to ease out your tension
1 unexpected cyclone
A Couple who resemble a bundle of nerves
A Jam packed hall full of people
1 full day of exhaustion

To Garnish:

A liberal dose of Murphy’s Law
Bunch of intrusive people, who will double up as *advisors*
Don’t forget Drama

Preparation Time:  

Initial Preparation 15-30 days
Final Touches - 1 Week
Event - 5 hours

How To:

After finding the Perfect Bakra, Ok, the Perfect Boy (Happy?), Meeting his sister and then his family, and after being approved from both sides. Duly printed Horoscopes are taken to the Mama from West Mambalam again for choose *Auspicious Dates*. Discussions happen around ideal dates and finally once a mutually convenient date is fixed, preparations begin.

First, begin with spreading the news, Oldies or the Opinion Leaders in the family would ask you to ideally keep quiet until it becomes official. Don't go around telling all and sundry is the catchphrase. 

Once you are done with keeping the big secret to yourself and only telling the very important people in your life, you start with preparation.

Be open to a lot of different ideas, clashing opinions and truck loads of unwanted gyaan. Everybody in your line of sight will have to tell you something very important. Keep calm, eat chocolate cake and use your ears to their full capacity.

Start with your very basics like - identifying the right saree. Start as early as possible, even if you start choosing outfits a couple of months before the engagement, you will still want to change your mind. Go about choosing the right beauty parlour, fix an appointment. Meanwhile keep hounding your tailor.

When you have your blouses stitched and other appointments fixed, cross check again, the blouses may not fit you properly, run around for alteration again. 

1 Week before the D-Day

If you thought this wasn’t enough, decide to be a Hands-on-Bride to be. Continue slogging at work and stay back as and when possible. Tag around with your parents, go ring shopping, gift trays shopping, Dry-Fruits tasting, and even gift wrapper shopping.

3 Days before the D-Day

Murphy’s Law comes into play! An unexpected cyclone comes around and ruins your shopping plans for the day. Head back home and chill with a tumbler of Filter Kaapi.

2 Days before the D-Day

Invite the boy home to meet the parents (yeah, my folks saw him two days before the D-Day). Sudden plans like going to the boy’s place to celebrate his Nephew’s birthday will crop up. So hurry up, and run to the parlour again to do your eyebrows and waxing.

At this point your mehendi wali will not be able to make it on time, start hyperventilating, summon Plan-B and call on a Mehendi wala this time. Get done with one part of the Tamasha and sleep in peace.

1 Day before the D-Day

Don’t stop with just plain shopping, go out and buy fruits also. Please ignore the fact that you’ve had a skin lightening facial a couple of days ago. Take up the responsibility of wrapping everything neatly with cling foam wrappers, stick a bow on them and pierce roses for good measure.

Continue doing everything humanely possible to avoid last minute panic attacks.

On the D-Day

Keep calm, or atleast try to. Don’t go around telling Amma, - I want to throw up right now, my tummy aches, I’m very scared and the likes. You will feel the intensity of writing a Maths Paper with Integral and Differential Calculus, combined with Security and Portfolio Management. Trust me, it’s worse than that.

At this point, people at home will insist that you eat something every now and then, if they offer a couple of bread slices on the way to the Mandapam, don’t act smart and say I don’t feel like it. Shut up and eat it. If possible carry an extra apple or two and don’t forget to hide it from your gluttony 12yr old cousin.

Once you are inside the Mandapam, be quiet; keep your giggles and roaring laughter to yourself. If somebody comes in to check on you, give them a smile. Don’t worry; every single member of your family will want to have a closer look of your face, makeup, jewellery and everything else on you. Listen to all that unwanted gyaan and continue seeking Inner Peace.

After 90 mins of waiting in a heavy Silk saree, the esteemed Vaadiyar mama will call you on stage, watch your step and pray that you don’t trip on the floor. Once on stage, resist the urge to wave and blow flying kisses at the jam packed crowd.

Before you realize what’s happening, you will be ushered in for Round-2 of saree draping. Now, the aforementioned relatives will all want to squeeze inside the room. If you want to scream at them, do so in your head.

The real tamasha starts now, continue wearing your demure smile. Sometime later you would have exchanged rings, do your Namaskarams (don’t be a dodo like me, I missed mine).

You will be introduced to every single friend and relative who decided to grace the occasion, keep nodding and smiling at the same time. When the photo sessions happen, learn to ignore the crowd and continue posing like a pro. Remember not to grin too much and also blush a little.

After almost every single soul in the crowd has dispersed and what feels like a million years they will ask you to eat. Now thank your Amma for insisting that you eat a couple of bread slices on your way.

Once all this is done, you say tata-bye bye to the rest of the junta, breathe out a sigh of relief jump into the car, and listen to Saroja Samaan Nikalo on your way back.

Day After the D-Day

Spend the first half of the day cleaning the room which smells like weird concoction of Jasmine and Roses. Sleep through the rest of the day and wait for the feeling of being engaged to sink in.