Wednesday, June 02, 2010

from blogspot to selfhosted

Ok, so this has been waiting for a long time and finally I took the plunge. For a long time I was thinking that whether it makes sense to have a self-hosted blog which gives you more flexibility, control, (vanity) or to continue with the blogspot one.

And then the tough call of , what to name such a blog.

Well, its in action now so from now onwards, I am at

This blogspot site remains, at least till it starts to get very few visitors but for all new updates, point your browser to

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shantaram By Gregory David Roberts - Book Review (5/5)

The big tome was gifted to my wife by someone about 3 years back. I think it came in 2005 and I finally picked it up from the top shelf of my wall clinging shelf-mesh-cum-library last month. Its 900+ pages and I am not a big fan of such heavy books, being a lazy reader I often take few life-times to finish one but of all the gambles I have taken in picking fat books (including 'Zen and the art..') I have been always able to finish.

So I finished this a while back and waited for couple of weeks to settle my oozed-out wonder-stuck eyes, gives some rest to my often-excited lower left pump and sort of let-it-sink before I attempt to write a quick review. Often the initial excitement dies down to a more informed insight and time makes you better.

My overall rating for the book is 5/5, after a long time. The last one I guess was 'The Kite Runner'. Here's a short scoop

Its based on Robert's own life in Mumbai, an Australian fugitive who is on a run and finds Mumbai interesting enough to hang-on. Its not an auto-biography but its a fact based fiction , now that sounds like a lawyer-lingo. Well, the protagonist is the author himself and he goes through his life in Mumbai as an expat, as a slum-dweller, as a mafia and finally finding himself amid Mujahideens. The plot is brilliant and characters are juicy and full and David ensures that the narration is engaging, novel but at the same time full with thrill.

The book is a Philosophical fiction by someone who takes us into those areas where a bulk of us have no access viz. Jhoparpatthis (slums), Black Markets / Mafia, Jails, Drugs and what not. Its a great read for academic purposes since it deals with today's world and while it would have its own share of writer's creativity , the details around Arthur Road Jail, Durgs, Cold Turkey are something which doesn't look far from reality. And mind you, the book is not about the main character, Lindsay aka Lin Baba aka Lin Bhai but it gives equal justice to all the others and doesn't make it into a self soul-search saga. Too many things happen all the time and all the characters go through a lot of transformations, in the end it almost reads like a suspense thriller where you would want to know, what would happen now.

There is a plan to make a movie where Johnny Depp is going to play the lead role, directed by Mira. The latest plan for release is 2011. For more than few times, I felt like doing a movie playing Lin and after some deliberation with myself, I settled for Nazeer.

Here's the wiki link and there is also a official website here.

Shantaram is the 2nd of a quartret which David has planned but I dont think other 3 ever made it or made it so far.

The book is also greatly recommended for folks who are looking beyond thrilling-engaging-edgy reads, some of the lines are exceptional.

I know with 900+ pages, it may sound thick but read it for 'Character Building' and one which you would enjoy unlike the traditional 'Character Building' activities. If you read the book, I would be delighted to read your views about the book in the comments section. I am hoping that if you chose to read this after my recommendation, I didn't let you down.

I just finished 'Outliers' by Malcom Gladwell and that review should happen shortly.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

5 Steps to create a series of posts at Ghumakkar

Often, we are in a situation where we have visited a number of places as part of some long vacation and when it comes to writing a trvelogue at Ghumakkar, we do not want to write all of it in one single story. In fact the vacation may not be long and you may want to break your short vacation story in few parts. Breaking not only helps you to better focus on each location/place in the right detail but it also helps the reader since not everyone would want to do the same vacation with the same itinerary.

In all these cases, wont it be nice if a reader who reaches any of your stories through a 'Google Search' or while browsing the site, is presented with a small 'Table of Content' with links of the all the stories of that particular vacation.

Well, you can do this at Ghumakkar and here's a small tutorial to achieve this. At the end of this post, I would also give you some links where this is being used at Ghumakkar.

5 Steps to create a series of posts at Ghumakkar

1. Write first post and Save it. Once saved, Edit the post and go to the bottom of the page. You would find two boxes like this

In the left box, choose "New Series" , click 'Start' and input a name. Click Save at the top right to save this.

What you have just done is that you have created a new Series and attached your first story with the series. Lets say that you create a new series called "Delhi - Sangla - Kaza - Manali - Delhi"

2. Now go ahead and publish the post.

3. Assuming that you would want to write another post for the same series, write another post/story and after saving again go to bottom.

This time, instead of choosing 'New Series', pick the name which you have created last time. See the snapshot below. And select 'End'.

4. Now suppose you want to add another story, simple repeat the 2nd step. What the software does in the background is that it would make the current 'End' as '2nd Last' and the latest one as 'Last'. It all works on the dates so the latest becomes the newest. 'Start' is the oldest in the series but in 'Table of Content' it appears first.

5. Nothing and enjoy your series of posts and send the link to your best friends. This is what a reader of your story would see if he finds any of your stories.

hope this is useful.If you have any questions please write a small comment below and I would promptly get back to you.

Till then, happy Ghumakkari and happy writing !!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writing a Story at Ghumakkar

Time to summarize few things so that its more accessible and makes it easy for me to redirect new Ghumakkars here than writing again, lazy me.

How you can keep contributing.

1. Try to write the story at the site itself or in a notepad and not MS-Word. Microsoft puts a lot of formatting information in its documents which are not well understood by web browsers, so simple text works fine.

2. Pick all your pics and then resize them using any image editing program. A smaller pics makes the story load faster, especially on bandwidth challenged places in India. I use to resize my pics. A width of 550 pixels works great in current layout. It might look like a pain but all good works involve some pain.

3. Insert pics. Here's a short tutorial . Skip the part which talks about resizing since you have already done it using 2.

4. When done, after first para and a pic, click this [more] button.

When you click this button, it inserts a break-point in the story which ensures that the home page only shows a fraction of the story and one has to click on the title or on 'Click here to read full story" link. When someone does that then the real story page opens, e.g. and 'views' gets recorded. If you look at the left corner, you would see 'Recent Most Viewed' so if your story gets enough views, it reaches there hence any new visitor would have a greater chance to find your story and read further.

and finally, never ever hesitate to write to me for any and everything. If all of the above sound like a big hassle then just write your story, collect your pics and send both to me over e-mail and I would get it done.

Happy Ghumakkari and Happy writing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

'Its Greek To Me' - Restaurant Review

I found myself at this joint last week and thought that I would write a small quick review. Right opposite 'Deer Park', this place is a food-cum-drink place in Safdarjang Enclave. Very well located if you are somewhere in South Delhi else its a bit of a distance to cover. Here's an interactive Google Map for directions.

View 'Its Greek to Me' in a larger map

Its a Greek-Roman style of frugal seating with clean, light wooden chairs and tables , a light music in the background and no rush anywhere at all. I was there on a Sunday Lunch and the fact that I didn't see many people makes it a good place, who needs the ever crowded Gulatis on a hot summer day. Its on two levels with an open kitchen. Its a good place for a group of 4-6 people who just want to enjoy a gulp over lots of conversations.

They have a very decent collection to wet your throat with the usual Beer to more sophisticated Wines. You can get a Wine by glass and thats really very practical. The food is Greek/Italian/Roman class with baked chicken etc. I do not understand much about food so I would skip this part but you do get a rich collection to choose from and it seemed and tasted good. You do not get North Indian or Mughlai cuisine.

I dont think there are any happy hours because I didn't see any obvious mention of it anywhere but I wont be surprised if they have special deals for weekedays.

Price wise it seemed right priced. Mocktails at Rs 100 a piece are a steal. A lunch for two where we ordered two mocktails, one starter (Roast and Toast Lamb), one main cuisine (Vasilikos) set us back by Rs 1100 and the potion was enough for two people. You replace a drink/cock-tail in place of mock-tail, and it wont go beyond Rs 1600 which is nice.

The staff is courteous, effective and they dont sell which is good.

All in all, a place worth trying. My next goal is to convince my boss to take us out there so that I can have my share of bubbly at someone else's pocket.

Hope this is useful.