Review: Baaz by Anuja Chauhan 

Only those authors who have done things differently,have managed to carve a niche for themselves in this cut-throat competition, to be someone who is loved by the audience.

Anuja Chauhan, by seamlessly mixing Hindi and English in her writing, has made her work very relatable to the urban Indian audience, which not only speaks but also thinks in Hinglish.

Baaz, her fifth book, is a tribute to our men in  uniform. It shows us civilians, how much they give up to do  what they do. A big salute to all these great men and their families who sacrifice everything for the nation.

Why do they call you Baaz?” 

‘It means falcon,’ he replies solemnly. ‘ Or bird of prey. Because I swoop down on the enemy just like a Baaz would.’ 

Then he grins. The grey eyes sparkle. 

‘It’s also short for bastard.’

Ishaan Faujdaar, our protagonist is the adorable Air Force Officer no one can resist. From Chakkahera , a small village in Haryana to the illustrious IAF, Ishaan with his charm and talent makes the audience love him and root for him despite his cockiness.

War between the USSR backed India-Mukti Bahini alliance and America-aided Pakistan, 1971 is the perfect opportunity for the star of IAF to prove his mettle.

His Gnat, a tiny fighter plane has brought about massive destruction to F-86 Sabre Squadrons of Pakistan and has earned him the title of Sabre Slayer.

He is quite satisfied with his life when Tehmina Dadyseth breezes into his life, with her strong opinions, her Freesia ads and makes him question the very foundations of his. Having lost her loved ones in the name of patriotism, she is a  pacifist who hates the very idea of war.

The characters of Kung Fui , Tehmina’s aunt with her incredible sass and sauce; Raks and Maddy, his awesome buddies with their jokes and goofiness ; and fellow Gnatties Jana Gana Mana who are with Shaanu on his quest for glory and adventure make the story memorable and fun.

Twists, turns, war and a beautiful love affair keep the content interesting and the reader hooked.

Enough said, go pick it up yourselves . The weekend calls for some love, laughter and Baaz.

Love,

Zoya 😘

Review: You Never Know by Akash Verma 

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

 

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Review: You Never Know by Akash Verma 

It was a pleasant surprise when an advance review copy of this book came into the mail for me.

Synopsis

Dhruv is happily married with two kids, has a satisfying job and is doing quite well in his life.

Anuradha, has been newly recruited by C&M, a very respectable advertising agency to work on ‘Mojo’ – Uni Cola’s latest product.

The competition between various advertising agencies to get ‘Mojo’ is fierce. Anuradha, with her confident ways and ability to stick to her opinions even in the presence of big shots manages to get the deal. This success is also Dhruv’s first as a branch head and victory tastes sweeter as it has come through Anuradha.
The electric attraction between them soon becomes impossible for the two of them to resist and they find themselves warming each other’s beds. This secret, exciting affair was going great but it begins to coil around their lives like a serpent and ghosts from Anuradha’ s past come to haunt them.

The secrets of her past, begin to spill into her present and endanger not only Dhruv but also his wife, Shalini and kids, Kabir and Siya. These people will go to any lengths to ensure that they get what they want.

Will Dhruv, a regular guy manage to cope with this threat to his family? Will he able to protect Anuradha and himself? Will he able to save his marriage? Will he make it back from the vortex of danger he has been propelled into?

Apart from depicting Urban India in all it’s reality, with its hollow glamour and dark ghosts in their closets, it poses several important questions to the reader. Can there be any justification of extramarital affairs? Do these relationships last? What impact does it have on the lives and outlook of kids who have been affected by such relationships? Who gets hurt? What about the person who through no fault of his/her own has to live with the pain all their life?

Love,

Zoya 😘

Review: Maneka’s Choice by Kavita Kane

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Travelogue: Dubai Day 9

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It was the second last day of our trip and it had to be made memorable, because the last would be used to shop last minute stuff so like the 9th episode of Game of Thrones this had to be epic.
(Big GoT fan, and since Winter is Here,therefore the reference. Can’t keep calm at all) .

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We have a lot of family and family friends in Dubai, so it was this huge family affair, and it was decided that we would go for a Desert Safari. We had a light lunch since dune bashing can make people feel sick.

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We were picked and taken to the desert via a bus. At the edge of the desert, we got strapped in a Land Cruiser and were tossed up and down as the car zoomed across the fantastic sand dunes.

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We stopped in the middle of the desert, where a beautiful camp greeted us. We chilled in the camp for a little while and got our hands painted with henna. There was sheesha, and a small photo session with Arabian Eagles.

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 A camel ride was scheduled after this which got us more into the desert vibe.

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Next up was quad biking, which I was initially afraid to ride and so I sat pillion. But soon enough I mustered enough courage to ride it myself.

20170428_165131.jpg Doing that, I realised why biking is such a passion. It really does feel great to manoeuvre a bike. Also I ticked off this activity from my adventure sport bucket list.

As evening fell, we moved into the Arabian style camp and were greeted to an absolutely stunning belly dance show and an equally beautiful Tanura Dance. 

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It was followed by a sumptuous dinner, where we gorged on delicious barbeque preparations and some not so delicious vegetarian food.

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Making my way back, leaving the desert, a feeling of barrenness took hold of me. That bittersweet feeling that refuses to leave you, when all is well, and the starlit sky reassures you, but you know it would be the last time you’d feel such things, because it is never going to be the first time again. Because the desert sands have a way of getting in your soul.

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 There’s an Arabic saying which says once you step on the desert sands, they hold you in their barriers forever. Perhaps, it is true. Perhaps it is not. I take in the desert landscape for the last time, the dark sky kissing the tops of the sand dunes, the vast, neverending stretch of the desert, its eerie silence echoing with unknown stories, the winds whispering tales of time. I fill my lungs with the desert air and an unimaginable longing grips me.

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All that we have lost, is it here? Does the stark, raw beauty of the desert hide our sorrows? Is it why the deserts have so little life, because all human suffering gets buried in the sameness of deserts everywhere? 

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Love,

Zoya 😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 7 and 8

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue: Dubai Day 7 and 8

Now let me tell you something about the malls of Dubai. They are not just malls. They are a different world altogether. It’s not just a place to shop and eat, but to enjoy and experience. Each mall has been constructed with the agenda of making them look like a different world, therefore frolicking in different malls for days at a stretch is not to be judged 😀

Also I’m a little bit of a shopaholic if given the opportunity, so spending 2 whole days on shopping seems like a very good idea to me.

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Now you see those crazy high heels, I managed to walk in them and use public transport ( taxis not included ) for almost half a day, without spraining my ankle. A feat which would have been quite impossible back home because of the crazy roads as well as my tendency to dream and gaze at the sky while I’m walking. In my defense, I am sky person, if such a thing exists 😛

The other day we went to Gold Souk and were bedazzled by the jewels on display. All that glitters IS gold, literally. And sometimes diamonds too 😀

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Dubai has been made with the objective of making it the best city in the world. And they are doing their best to make it so and succeeding too.
Who would have thought that a desert could be converted to this happening place where nothing ever stands still. Who would have thought that the desert could have greenery and rains.
To make that happen the government has installed pipes everywhere which give timely water supply to the plants.

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The maintenance cost of plants is exceptionally high but they spend it to make the weather better and the ambience more pleasing.

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It pains me to see how we cut our trees and have converted a green city with plenty of rain to a hot, polluted city. We don’t have to spend money for greenery and we totally waste the blessing we have been granted with. I think faced with the enormous issue of global warming, climate change and the dangers we are facing, it’s high time we start trying to save our environment. Screenshot_20170705-154055Screenshot_20170705-154209Instead of waiting for governments which is completely penetrated by corruption at every level, we need to save the world. Because no one else is going to do it for us.

Love,

Zoya😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 9

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part II

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part II

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Buggy ride!

From the dolphin bay we took a buggy to reach the Atlantis Aquaventure.
Apparently it is the best in Dubai and I have absolutely no doubt about it.

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First time in a burkini(almost), can’t afford the glorious tans bikinis provide 😛

The worst part is though I don’t have any pictures of when I was actually doing the rides, but you can get them if you are willing to pay very unreasonable amounts of money for one picture( according to INR).
The safety levels out there are very high so you needn’t worry about getting injured or lost.

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I was carrying slippers 😛

After taking a locker to keep all of our stuff we started the day’s activities.
First we took a tube ride through the River Rapids several times. It was too much fun for just one turn. 😛

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Then another round through the Torrent River which was even better. It felt like we were actually in the middle of a cyclone.
While we were through it we also had a shower in the artificial waterfalls.

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‘Posing’ for a ‘candid’ 😀

The lifeguards are so amicable and helpful. I got chatty with some of them and it was quite a pleasure to know them.
It always feels good to converse with people from different countries and cultures.

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Check out Atlantis hotel behind me!

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Aquaventure Waterpark has two other segments for rides. The Tower of Neptune and The Tower of Poseidon.

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For my dearest friends who have complained of the lack of this in my posts.

The Tower of Poseidon has Aquaconda which is the world’s largest waterslide. Then there is Zoomerango which has one experiencing a mix of sensations, from mega plummets and vertical zooms with thrilling bursts of weightlessness throughout.

IMG_20170425_175652IMG_20170425_175457There’s Poseidon’s Revenge and Slitherine, two other amazing rides. But my favourite has to be Zoomerango which I did multiple times.

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The Tower of Neptune has Water Coasters which propelled us up and down on jets of water and The Shark Attack where we journeyed through the core of the tower to emerge into the middle of a shark filled lagoon.

IMG_20170425_180328IMG_20170425_181730IMG_20170425_181430 The best ride and my absolute favourite is The Leap of Faith which was a 9 story mega slide which is nearly vertical and hurtles one in a mere second. That kind of adrenaline rush, my goodness, it was crazy!

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Bidding adieu

The best thing about these rides was that my mom did all of them except Poseidon’s Revenge and Leap of Faith, which gave me even greater joy. My experience at Aquaventure was undoubtedly the best I have ever had in my life.

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Twin Towers behind me.

After changing we clicked a few pictures at some places and went to Glow Garden.

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Cinderella in her carriage!

IMG_20170425_204956 Its a great place for photography. The entire garden is filled with all kinds of lights to create some really good art.

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Love,

Zoya😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue : Dubai Day 5- Part II

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

This was not just the best day of my trip but undoubtedly the best day of my life. We started the day by utilising almost all of the public transport system of Dubai.

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The monorail which took us to Atlantis

 

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View of the city from the monorail

Hopping from a bus, to a metro and then a tram and finally to the monorail which has especially been created to take people to the one and only Atlantis. The monorail ride in itself is a luxurious affair and it gives one a taste of what is yet to come.

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Inside of the monorail

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Stepping down from the monorail and into Atlantis, we made our through the hotel to our activity area.

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Now there’s this fabulous activity in Atlantis where you can actually swim with dolphins and play with them. And I have had this fantasy ever since I saw an episode of Australia’s Next Top Model where the models were taken to Dubai for the finale and had this awesome experience.

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So call me crazy but this was one thing I just had to do no matter what. Once the tickets were done we were escorted to the Dolphin Bay where we were given our suits and then a small presentation followed in which our instructor told us some really cool facts about dolphins.

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Finally we were taken to the pool and we met our dolphin who was Sol. I swear, he is the cutest creature on Earth. All animal lovers are going to judge me but I’m shit scared of animals and don’t let them come close to me. But Sol 😍😍

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Dolphins are such exceptional, intelligent and friendly mammals and am not scared of them.. so yayy!!
We danced, we played, we kissed and we had the time of our lives. And man! That guy got some crazy tricks up his sleeve. Honestly!
It was absolutely fantastic!

DSC_0009-1-1 Love,

Zoya 😘

Travelogue : Dubai Day 5- Part II  Travelogue: Dubai Day 5- part I  

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue : Dubai Day 5- Part II

Once we were satisfied by the hundreds of pictures we took in that manmade extravaganza of beauty called Burj Khalifa we returned to the Dubai Mall. 

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Next we went to the Dubai Aquarium ( inside the mall) , where we were taken through a tunnel with the aquarium as the ceiling and the walls.

IMG_20170424_160552IMG_20170424_160810 Since we had taken the explorer tickets we were escorted to a boat with a floor of glass and set sail inside the aquarium. Rays, sharks, eels and a variety of other fishes whose names I did not understand ( the guide had a very thick accent) were all swimming beneath us.

IMG_20170424_164332IMG_20170424_164452IMG_20170424_165149They also have packages to scuba dive, snorkel, feed the fishes and swim with the sharks.
After the boat ride we were taken to the tropical rainforest and being there seeing the fishes I really missed some of my friends; they are such huge fish lovers they would have died to see what I was seeing.

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However the Dubai Aquarium saved the best for the last and we could see adorable penguins. I had the good fortune to see one actually swimming. Penguins are the cutest creatures in the whole world.

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Once outside the aquarium, we spent some time exploring the huge mall. It has some really beautiful corners where a picture is a must – The Waterfall, The Souk , The Souk- al – Bahara being some of them.

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In the evenings the Dubai Mall has a show of the Dubai fountains. Now if one goes at the top of the Burj Khalifa during this time they can see the show from above which would enhance the view so much. The five minute show has people waiting for hours to get a good view of the fountains and the wait is totally worth it.

 

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All in all, it was a beautiful day with some memories that are going to last a lifetime.

Love,

Zoya 😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Travelogue: Dubai Day 5- part I

Travelogue : Dubai Day 4

 

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Review: Rains off a Smoky Sky

Rains off a smoky sky, Dr. Pritam Mandal’s first book has Anurita as the protagonist who offers us a glimpse into her life through the pages of her diary, whom she calls Rita.

To the world, Anu is just an ordinary girl from a small village in West Bengal, whose dreams are much bigger than the set norms of the society she is a part of. As she takes flight into the world, she is often held back by the judgemental society.

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Her story is one of courage, dreams and the belief that one person can make a difference. The book raises a lot of questions, all of them equally important and relevant in today’s world. A question it raises again and again is of waste management and how we humans, despite being the most evolved of all species to have populated this planet, are a complete failure at dealing with  this simple yet humongous problem. Despite all this technology and brain at our disposal, we are incapable of coping with our own garbage.

The book addresses several issues – of bombings, rape threats, corruption, the plight of women, the society, the condition and current reality of our country, the environment; therefore sometimes, it becomes too preachy. If only the author had been a little more picky about the problems he chose to highlight, in my opinion it could have been a better book. Apart from that, there are several printing mistakes and a few grammatical errors which could have been avoided by thorough editing and proofreading. For instance, the name of the book itself.

However, Anurita’s story and her opinions are important, because we need to be made aware of the damage we are causing to our wonderful Blue Planet. And as Anu doesn’t give up hope and discovers fireflies in the darkness dancing in the rain-bathed petals of lovely carnations, we can too.

We can change our ways.

We can change the world.

Love,

Zoya

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue: Dubai Day 5- part I

 

 

Travelogue: Dubai Day 5- part I

This was one of the best days of my trip. This was the first day I used public transport in Dubai, so it was a new challenge. But the public transport system there has been created with the sole objective of being tourist friendly and so it is very easy to use; very, very clean and completely air conditioned.  IMG_20170424_142318.jpgIMG_20170424_141702We took the metro to the Dubai Mall ( most of the metro stations open directly into malls) and walked through a long, long connector to enter the mall.

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IMG_20170424_143438Now we had tickets to visit the Burj Khalifa, so we made our way to At The Top ( that’s the entry point to Burj Khalifa). They offer views from the 140th floor and 124 th floor.

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We walked through corridors which showed us the history of Burj Khalifa and educated us about some cool facts. Like the amount of steel rebar used for the tower if laid end to end, would extend over a quarter of the way around the world; and the design embodies the lyrical and well proportioned structure of Spider Lily, a regional desert flower.

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We were escorted to the lifts and we were at the 124 th floor in exactly 1 minute. I actually used a timer to check. Typical ‘desi’ things 😛

And in a jiffy, I was literally at the top of the world. The tallest and one of the most iconic towers of modern times- and I was in it. That feeling is crazy!
Once at the top, the view is  just unbelievable.

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It is so, so beautiful to look at the city. From up there, Dubai looks like a miniature version of itself. That view of the city, its “designer” buildings, it’s roads, its beaches and everything else is marvellous.

IMG_20170424_145817 IMG_20170424_143241 IMG_20170424_142502On​e can also view the Dubai Fountains from up there if they go in the evening. Also pictures taken up there are love 😍

Love,
Zoya 😘

P.S. Hope you guys liked my post. Stay tuned for more such posts. You can also like my page The Big Biblionaire on Facebook and follow me at zoya.ejaz on Instagram.

Travelogue : Dubai Day 5- Part II

Travelogue : Dubai Day 4

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Travelogue: Dubai Day 6- Part I

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Travelogue : Dubai Day 4

Dubai has lots of beaches. There’s one very close to Burj al Arab called the Kite Beach, which was our destination for the day. A long stretch of white, pristine sand greeted us and the skies looked playful with colourful kites flying across and spreading cheer.

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The trip to the beach shows one how liberal Dubai is. All females were in bikinis and despite Dubai being a city in a Muslim country, no one gave them a second glance. People are least bothered by what you wear, you won’t be the victim of lewd stares , uncomfortable oglings or anything of that sort. I have never seen so much freedom to wear anything in India.

People in burkinis were swimming along comfortably with the ones in bikinis, not judging anyone for wearing less or more clothes.
Apart from swimming, sunbathing and the usual there are plenty of water sports one can indulge in!
After a small picnic on the beach we went home to grab lunch and rest. Being a complete sucker for water, I completely forgot that I should take enough pictures and so here we are back again, with no pictures, only pleasant memories. 

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Few hours later we changed and then made our way to Ibn Battuta Mall. This is a theme mall. It has courts of each country Ibn Battuta, the great traveller and scholar visited. And the courts are representative of that country both from inside and outside. 

Everything from the floor, the ceilings, the walls is worth viewing.There was the China court, India court, Persia court, Tunisia Court, Andalusia Court. Each time you enter a new court, it transports you to another country. 

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Since I had never been to a theme mall before it was something very new for me.
We ended the day by some shopping and eating authentic shawarmas which are NOT juicy, and taste quite bland and dry to the Indian palate. One thing I know, there’s nothing better than ‘Hindustani khana’. Nothing at all.

Love,

Zoya 😘

Travelogue: Dubai Day 3

Travelogue: Dubai Day 1

Travelogue: Dubai Day 5- part I