16 May 2017

Baahubali - An Epic Saga

Finally, I watched Baahubali - The Conclusion. To be honest, I have not gone to the movie to know Why Kattappa killed Baahubali or to know has Baahubali really died? The question they asked at the end of Baahubali - The Beginning did stir the audience’s curious minds. And, the sequel holds answers to many questions.


Baahubali is undoubtedly an epic masterpiece. Captivating storytelling, stunning visuals, innovative war sequence along with the notable Tamil dialogues. (I watched the Tamil version) It has all the elements to enthrall the audience in every possible way. As the twists and turns unfold, we will be wanting for more and more. I found part 2 was powerful and action packed than the part 1. Well, the first part established all the characters already and so it was easy to go directly into fast paced action story.

However, I felt a hurry in the climax and also left with one or two unanswered questions, still there are many things to rave about. Because, the movie left me speechless in many places. I literally couldn’t come out of the movie and its characters even after two days. This post is not a review, but I am trying to reminisce what I experienced on the big screen.

I can list out many reasons for why I liked this film. I always look for the costumes in any movies. And here I couldn’t stop admiring those rich brocade costumes with bright colors and prints complementing each characters who share the same screen and also with the backdrop. Not to forget the lavish art direction, action choreography, well, every scene etched in detail to please our eyes. But the songs and the dance choreography failed to impress me as much it did in the prequel.

Know more about the movie

Let me highlight the two things I loved the most. Firstly, it is the visuals. No one can forget the visually stunning waterfalls and the magnificent golden statue scene in Baahubali - The Beginning. The team had put a lot of effort in the second part, and hence there are some breathtaking scenes. The visuals not only showcase the images and objects but also expresses the character of each and every element and brings out that overwhelming feel, naturally.


Secondly, the dialogues. I was kind of attracted towards the dialogues in Tamil version. I must admit I fell in love with my language one more time. It was like listening to a rhythm. Not all but some dialogues. That’s not because of the bestirring background score but the rhyming in the words play its own tune. The way its been rendered is also impressive.

I have grown up watching black and white Raja-Rani Tamil films and it reminded me of those days. At one point, I even longed for the Tamil poetry I studied in my school. It was that beautiful and enchanting. It also reminded me the historical series I used to read in a weekly magazine.

Beyond the extravagant visuals and the graphics in the movie, the emotions underneath played the vital part. Be it romance, vengeance, melodrama, action, humor, sarcasm etc. I admired how the brevity of dialogues elevate those emotions.


Like I said in the beginning of this post, I did not go to the cinema to know the answers. But I only wanted to get drenched in awe moment. The movie did satisfy my expectation. It certainly has the gravity to keep the audience hooked throughout. When I walked out of the cinema hall as the end credits rolling, it was like every single droplet of the rain caressing my skin, leaving me in a state that I would want to sway in its harmony.

The magic of the terrific storytelling along with the visual grandeur makes Baahubali a brilliant masterpiece.

28 Apr 2017

Allah Al-Aleem ~ Children's Book Review




Author - Bint Abdul Hamid
Illustrator - Zahra Gulraiz

'Al-Aleem' is one of the 99 Names of Allah. The meaning of Al-Aleem is 'The All-Knowing'.

Allah calls Himself Al-Aleem - The All-Knowing, The Omniscient in the Holy Quran. Only He knows the minutest details of all things hidden and manifest. His Knowledge is complete, perfect and comprehends the past, present, and the future.

The best gift we can give our children is the knowledge of Tawheed, to know their God. Knowing Allah by His names will help establish their roots and help them attach to their Creator out of love of His perfection.

Allah Al-Aleem book gives the exposure to the one the many attributes of the Creator. This book is suitable for children of 3 years and above.

Nowadays, children are becoming smarter and intelligent and pose millions of questions on whatever they see and what all they hear. Well, children are naturally curious and are tend to ask so many questions. We elders try to answer them as much as we can, while sometimes we fall short. It is hard to satisfy the young minds with our answers.

Like say for instance, How many creatures live under the ground? How many leaves fall from the tree? Mostly we manage to engage them with some sort of stories or sometimes, we try to teach them science and nature or many times, we just give a short reply. As much as the detailed answers we give, we also should keep in mind that it is our duty to make them aware that only the Creator knows the best. And that is exactly what the book is all about.

However, I feel not alone replying the kids 'Allah knows' is enough, but if we add that with relevant information, that will certainly ignite their little minds. And I believe that would be more appropriate for them to learn. But of course, Allah knows the best.

This little book introduces the young reader to the name Al-Aleem in an easy to follow, colorful way. Illustrations are rich in colors and the writing short and thoughtful.

It is parents’ responsibilities to introduce their children to Allah’s names and attributes and engage their little minds with good lessons. The author has beautifully connected universal signs with the name العليم and along with it, she has also given the answers, in order to give certainty in their belief like, We can guess the rain, but only Allah knows.’



The Allah Al-Aleem book is short, sweet and colorful. It gives children, a beautiful introduction to their Creator's one of the many qualities.


Jumma Mubarak!
Happy Friday!

29 Mar 2017

A Selection Of The Finest Children’s Books


The seeking of knowledge is obligatory to every one of us. From cradle to grave, the search for knowledge never stops. Life offers so many lessons to learn. As an elder, as a parent, it is our duty to teach our young ones. We are responsible to instigate them the love for reading. And that itself becomes a huge responsibility as we have to guide them through valuable lessons. I encourage my little nephews and niece to read by gifting them books - be it stories or activity, every now and then. Because, you know children often tend to get bored with their old toys and look for new ones. There are loads of children's book in the market but mostly fairy tales and imaginary fun loving books. They, of course, are appealing but at times they fail to emphasize morals and values.

Selecting good books for children is very important. Only that will increase their interest in learning, building vocabulary and stir their curiosity about the world. And that leads to creating a wonderful memory for them. However, we have better choices of books for young adults, but for the kids to start with, to get them introduced to the faith and the way of life, I realized there were only a limited collection. My nephews are still 4 to 5 years old and I was looking for lively, engaging and religious upbeat books that would introduce them to our faith while also focusing on the universal ideas.

My quest in finding the Children’s books that inspire as well as engage is there for quite sometime now, especially after my nephews were born. I came to know of Prolance Publishers who have released some beautiful and appealing books. And these books are enriched with meanings, and they are suitable for the kids of all age group. They have a selection of the finest books that spark creativity and make the learning fun and exciting. Some of my favorite books from their collection are:



Authors - Akila Dada & Sukaina Dada
Illustrations - Michael Wagstaffe


This little bedtime book is suitable for the kids of all ages. Children will be drawn to the cute illustrations and simple rhyming prayers. This is one of the easiest ways to introduce prayer into a child's bedtime routine. In this book, little Esa with his Mama thanks God and says a prayer for people all around the world. With thoughtful illustration and imagery, this charming bedtime story will inspire the kids to contemplate the world’s wonders and say prayers before they go to sleep. This book is a beautiful lullaby prayer to every child.

Buy this book at Amazon.com





Compiled & Illustrated by Meenu Bharadwaj


This book is a collection of Duas for kids. The duas listed in this book are very powerful. Prayers are meant to protect and to get the blessings from Allah. Not only kids but even the adults should know. It has both Arabic and the English translation for each little prayers. Each prayer comes with English Phonetic pronunciation and that makes it much easier to follow. The coloring pages are a plus as it particularly makes the learning session fun. This book is an effortless way to teach our children the basic little prayers. Like the prayers to be recited at bedtime, when you eat, when you wear a new dress etc. Quite an engaging activity book with coloring pages to stir the interest to memorize the short Duas while they color the illustrations.

This book playfully teach the duas and prayers to the children.



Buy this book at Amazon India



Author - Mai Hazem
Illustrations - Ahmed Moneer



Hannah Travels is a 5 part world travel book series that tells tale about different countries through the little girl Hannah. Hannah with her friends travels to places and this is all about her adventure. This book has lovely illustrations and stories around the world. In this series, the children get to discover new location, languages, learn new words, local food and explore their culture. A wonderful book for the kids to know about the world. Hannah travels to France, Egypt, India, Japan and Mexico. These books will certainly make the kids to muse about the people and the world.

Illustrations - Jenny Reynish


A beautiful and rich colorful story about the child’s birth and anticipation of coming into the world. It was a beautiful journey to every mother but what it is to the baby? This book talks about the baby’s thoughts about the mother and the father and the surroundings. Simple narration and colorful illustrations make this book worth the read to every kids and the parents. I felt that this book would be sweet and genuine enough to answer their curiosity in a religious and creative way. The illustrations depict the origin of baby from the heaven to the mother’s womb to the beautiful earth in a blessed way.

Publishers - Prolance

All these books have engaging words with interactive activity, rhymes and stories filled with faith and identity. These books also provide great opportunity for parents to spend quality reading time with their children.

Children will find this collection amusing and enjoy reading these books every day.

14 Mar 2017

The Dalai Lama's Cat ~ Book Review

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie is one of the most adorable books I have ever read in recent times.

This book came to me as a gift to my Amazon Kindle Paper White. If not, I would not even thought of buying it. Like few other books in my shelf, I was not intended to read this immediately. At first I was hesitant to pick this but when I did, the book turned out to be a surprise from the Page 1.



About the author - David Michie is the author of Buddhism for Busy People, Hurry Up and Meditate and Enlightenment to Go and The Dalai Lama’s Cat - Art of Purring.

As the title implies, this is the story of The Dalai Lama’s Cat. and the cover page, cuteness overloaded. The author effortlessly transports us to the world of the narrator. I fell in love with the narrator from the first page and I was smiling all along.

The cat is referred as His Holiness’s Cat (HHC) by the monks in the monastery but the Dalai Lama addresses her as a Little Snow Lion. And, she is the protagonist. The entire story is the perspective of this Himalayan Cat. She begins the story from her birth on a roadside and how she became the Dalai Lama’s pet. And the story revolves around her and the people and the day to day events she encounters.

Having a cat as the storyteller, the book is very refreshing. The story is warm with simple narration and the writing is witty as well as profound. This cat even made me wonder what my pet birds think of me and my way of life. Well, that’s tough to say but then they are adored and spoiled, and sure enjoying their luxuries at home.

The HHC, much loved by the Dalai Lama and his staff, is free to wander everywhere in and out of the monastery. She enjoys the luxury as well as the closeness to Dalai Lama and his monks that others could even think of. It was very exciting to read her antics. Every detail of this cat is cute and funny. Especially her first fur ball experience, her tinge of jealousy over a dog that was brought in to the monastery, her love interest with a downtown cat and there are lots more.

Meantime, she also encounters people from different walks of life - Hollywood actress, monks, a self improvement author, a chef and many others who visits Dalai Lama. Where, she gets enlightened just by being closer to him.

This book is all about the events in the cat’s life laced with Buddhist philosophy. Some of the incidents are interesting and thought provoking. Most of the Dalai Lama’s private interactions with the cat are quite endearing. But I will not say this book is unputdownable as I took break quite a few times. And whenever I resumed, it still gave me the same feel, and no less.

Some passages instantly lit up my mood. Some stirred my thoughts with its deep topics. While, some helped me understand the complexities of life in simpler way. I have many favorite quotes from the book. I would like to highlight one here.

'You know, Professor, this stray kitten and you have one very important thing in common.' 'I can't imagine,' responded the professor coolly. 'Your life is the most important thing in the world to you,' said His Holiness. 'Same for this kitten.'

'For all of us with consciousness, our life is very precious. Therefore, we need to protect all sentient beings very much. Also, we must recognize that we share the same two basic wishes : the wish to enjoy happiness and the wish to avoid suffering.' These are themes the Dalai Lama repeat often and in limitless ways. 'We all share these wishes. But also the way we look for happiness and try to avoid discomfort is the same. Who among us does not enjoy a delicious meal? Who does not wish to sleep in a safe, comfortable bed? Author, monk – or stray kitten – we are all equal in that.' 'Most of all,' the Dalai Lama said, leaning over and stroking me with his index finger, 'all of us just want to be loved.'

But hey, this is not religious or self improvement book but it works that way as well. Other than spirituality and philosophy, this book brings lots of cheer through the Cat. If you are cat person, you will love it to the core.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat is an easy, relaxing and an enjoyable read.

8 Mar 2017

Postcard From Seattle - Seattle City Pass



This is a guest post by Abdul, a business analyst who happens to travel often. Well, he has written few posts earlier under the pseudonym, Mr. Crumbles. Now let's continue to the post.

This post is a BlogAdda's Tangy Tuesday Pick

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What comes to your minds when you hear a city named Seattle? Headquarters of Tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon or the famous American Football team Seahawks or the world-famous rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Well, if none of these strike a chord in your head, let me introduce you to Seattle.

Having thousands of acres of parkland and surrounded by natural wealth, Seattle is the largest city of the State of Washington, USA. I had a privilege of visiting this wonderful city during the winter of 2016.


Welcome To Seattle

It was an 18 hour flight journey from India to Seattle via Dubai. My Emirates experience was awesome. Even though it was a long journey, I did not let my tiredness rule my beautiful first day at Seattle.

The city and its downtown gives a feel of New York by its look and architecture. One can walk around the city aided by Google Maps and might not need a vehicle to visit the top attractions. The other way of being economical is to buy the Seattle City Pass which is a $75 ticket to see 5 out of 7 Seattle attractions. I would say the CityPass is one of the best ways to explore Seattle.

On my Day 1, I purchased the Seattle City Pass and began my city tour. A picture postcard speaks a lot more than a long letter or a bulky album. So, let me keep it that way.

1. SPACE NEEDLE

                

Nobody can miss visiting the Space Needle which is a 605-ft tall observation tower. For someone in India who has to wait 10 mins to board a lift and stop at each floor and finally reach the 19th floor in another 5 mins, the Space Needle’s lift feels like a rocket. It reaches from ground level to the top floor in 43 seconds. Don’t forget to visit the Space Needle twice, once in the daylight and once to see the nightlife of Seattle.

2. SEATTLE AQUARIUM

I was really excited to see the Sea wonders. If you have kids accompanying you, the Seattle Aquarium is a must visit place. The children will enjoy the experience of touching the sea life, watching the jellyfish glow and of course, meet their friend Nemo. And the Otters are really cute. They can spend hours watching the delightful antics of these creatures.

Seattle Aquarium

3. MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE

For Pop lovers, the Museum of Pop Culture is an interesting place to hangout. But I am not very keen on Pop music. So for someone like me, the Sound Lab in the museum was a boon. It allowed me to feel the real sound recording studio ambiance and also sung my favorite song. I had a great new experience there.


Museum of Pop Culture

4. CHIHULY GARDEN AND GLASS

Chihuly Garden and Glass

The Chihuly Garden and Glass is a garden created entirely out of blown glass sculptures. This is one of a kind garden you would ever visit in your lifetime. I was astounded by their creativity and colors where it came to life. Have you watched Director Shankar's Shivaji movie? Well,if yes, then you would certainly feel like being in one of their artistic movie sets.



5. ARGOSY CRUISES HARBOR TOUR

Argosy Cruises

Skyline From The Cruise
A cruise in the evening breeze watching the sun go down on one side and the elegant city lighting up on the other is the best way to end the day. Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour was the closing scene of the first day outing in Seattle.


Readers, there are lots to know about the city. Stay tuned for the Day 2.



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