Dehradun

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I travelled to Dehradun last summer to meet my childhood friends whose parents are staying there and they all come together in the parents’ home every summer. We are family friends with uncle and aunty being very close to my parents, especially aunty and my mom. 

When I thought of Dehradun, I was expecting a very scenic and pretty place. But it’s even dirtier, crowded and dustier than our big cities, hotter than Mumbai and Delhi, which was a shock for me. Just before my vacation, I had caught a terrible viral fever with fever ranging between 102-103. I had thought I would have to cancel the trip. But my fever went down and I took the trip though weak. The heat was unbearable to bear with my weakness, but I took the trip. i was meeting my childhood friends after 20 years, not something I wanted to miss out on. Some places I visited on this trip:

Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir

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Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir is situated on the bank of the river. It has a cave with one of the oldest natural Shivalings where the river enters and the water from the river naturally falls in drops on the Shivalinga.

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The small cave also has another history behind it. It is said to be once resided by Dronacharya – the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas. The cave is named Drona cave after him. There is a statue of Dronacharya here, the only one I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is also a Vaishno Devi Gupha Mandir which is an exact replica of the original. It’s very beautiful but a very cramped and tiny cave. Go inside only if closed places don’t scare you and you don’t suffer from claustrophobia.

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Robbers Cave

Robbers Cave, Dehradun has a legend behind it that a long time back, robbers would come down from the mountains and hide in this cave from the police. It added the sense of adventure of the place for me. It is a beautiful cave with a stream and waterfall inside it. It should not be missed at all.

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Forest Research Institute(FRI)

Forest Research Institute is an institute which researches on the preservation of trees and plants in that region. The entire complex has European style buildings and beautiful gardens in the french style. It is also the institute that served as the college in  Student of the Year.

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Buddha Monastery

The only other place where I saw such beautiful Buddha Monasteries were in Bangkok. Dehradun has a lot of Tibetan influence in Dehradun. You must try the Tibetan cuisine if you go there, especially if you eat Non-Vegeterian food. The Wok and The Orchard have awesome food there. The Orchard also is located at a very beautiful spot. Go there in the daytime preferably, it has beautiful scenery around.

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Movies I Will Always Love!

We all have those movies that we can watch again and again. I also have my list of movies that I never get tired of watching. Here they are:

Lagaan -

Many people I know find the movie very long and lose interest in between. But, I love ever part of the movie. From the challenge to the villagers learning cricket to Bhuvan and Radha’s romance to Elizabeth’s untold love for Bhuvan to the victory, I simply love every bit of it. I can watch this movie any number of times.

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3 Idiots

The story of three engineering students – one a genius, second loves engineering but is worried about his marks all the time and the third who has been forced into this field by over-ambitious parents – is a story that I will always love to watch again and again. It is a movie which raises very pertinent questions about our education system, social system and questions all our pre-conceived notions and makes you have fun while doing that.

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Rang De Basanti

Five young men who live life just like any other youngsters do, drinking, loving and living every moment to the fullest. A young woman from England comes to India to make a documentary about Indian freedom fighters based on her grandfather’s diary and the five men find myself them acting in it. They find themselves in the bargain and then life takes a tragic turn and makes them rise up and act against the system and corruption. A movie that is a must watch for every  Indian and a movie I will see again and again forever.

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Dil Chahta Hai

The journey through life of three friends, discovering love and understanding and the experiences that shape them and help them grow up and understand what really matters in life.

Swades

A NASA scientist, Mohan Bhargava, returns to India to look for Kaveri Amma who brought him up. He wants to take Kaveri Amma back with him to America. He ends up rediscovering his roots and feels compelled to return to his homeland. This is one of Shahrukh Khan’s finest performances.

Kaagaz Ke Phool

This is the story of a film director Suresh(Guru Dutt) whose marriage is on the rocks and ends in divorce. He is prohibited from meeting his daughter. He meets Shanti(Waheeda Rehman) and lends her coat. When she comes to his film studio to return his coat and disrupts the shooting, he realizes her potential as an actress. He casts her in her film and Shanti becomes a big star. A memorable love affair starts between Suresh and Shanti. This movie is a must watch for every movie lover. Who can forget the beautiful song, Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam?

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Guide

Based on R.K Narayan’s book The Guide, this movie is truly a classic of all times. The love story of Raju the Guide(Dev Anand) and Rosie(Waheeda Rehman), the daughter of a courtesan and the wife of a rich man is one of the best love stories of Indian cinema. They separate due to a lot of misunderstandings and meet again in the end when Rosie sees him as a priest, greatly loved and respected by people and he dies in her arms, feeling at home again. I totally love this movie.

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Anand

Anand, a terminally ill man, teaches a bitter against life doctor how to live life to the fullest. Truly one of the best performances of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. My favourite song from the movie – Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli.

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Queen

A girl gets jilted just before marriage. She decides to set out on her honeymoon alone to Paris and Amsterdam. It is the journey of opening up, losing her inhibitions and self discovery of a girl and loving herself for who she is. It’s a movie I identify with.

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Chak De India!

A muslim hockey player is branded as a traitor after his team loses his match due to his missing a goal. He vanishes into oblivion till he resurfaces when he is hired to coach the Indian Women’s hockey team. How he raises a team of champions and gets his dignity back is the baseline of the movie. It also shows the strength of women, their capability to touch the skies. An all-time favourite of mine.

Munnabhai Series

Another movie with a lighthearted touch that teaches you very important lessons in life. I love Lago Raho Munnabhai especially,

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Rise Above Fear

I am normally a very confident person and deal with colleagues and clients completely confidently. My work is in client servicing and I face no shyness, fear or nervousness while dealing with a client or my colleagues.

However, there is one area where I face total nervousness and start developing cold feet – this area is public speaking. From childhood, I would avoid situations where I would need to address people from a stage or any platform. I had basically been a very shy person and would have difficulty interacting with people. When I started working, my shyness completely vanished with time and I was completely comfortable meeting new people and interacting with them. But my fear of public speaking is something I was sure I would never be able to conquer.

2014 has been a year for me where I have taken risks, chances, done things I have feared doing, lived life completely and with no inhibitions. The year was arriving to an end and I still had one more fear to get rid of.

In my organization, there is a storytelling session that we have every month. It is basically a day where chosen employees present case studies on path breaking media campaigns. We also have to give our own suggestions on how the campaign could have been even better. Two people from each team are chosen to present at this session. Wih my intention to face this fear and conquer it before this year ends, I nominated myself for this session.

I decided to do a presentation on one of my favourite campaigns – Kan Khajura Tesan by HUL. I wanted to start work on the presentation well in advance so that I could do full justice to it. I just didn’t want to read out from the screen as I normally did because I used to be so nervous. As luck would have it, two very important campaigns of my client came up at that very time. They had to be launched on 14th November and we were informed at the last moment by the client. I was working 10-12 hours a day to ensure the campaign launched on time. Needless to say, I didn’t get any time to prepare my presentation.

One day before the day of the session, I started working on my presentation. I prepared my presentation in 2 days because I couldn’t neglect the client’s work also. Hence, I didn’t get any time to prepare and practise for the presentation. We were four people presenting that day. I was the first one to present that day. I quickly read through my presentation and tried to remember the salient points, so that I could present it without reading it out.

I started the presentation and am really happy to say that I only looked at the screen once in a while and when I wanted to point something out to people and my storytelling session went very will with people appreciating it a lot. One more fear struck off the list in 2014.

Mountain Dew’s film also talks about facing and conquering your fears too. Watch it here:

You can know more about it on the Mountain Dew Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia

Amsterdam – The City of my Dreams

I totally love travelling. It’s like my lifeblood. If I don’t travel to someplace after 6-7 months, I start getting restless, irritated and distracted. If I am strapped for a time, even a weekend trip is enough for the time being. I have visited different countries too. The city I have loved the most and still love the most is Amsterdam. I could happily settle there for a lifetime.

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My fascination with Amsterdam started when I read The Diary of Anne Frank. MY heart went out to her story and I wanted to see the place where she had hidden and spent those torturous years. It was turned into a museum after her father released her diary as a book.

Entrance to the Anne Frank Museum

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The Anne Frank Museum is the Secret Annexe where they hid from the Nazis. Her house where they had lived a beautiful and comfortable life was very close to the annexe.

Anne Frank’s actual House(the green door)

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The main mode of transport in Amsterdam is the river that flows through it. Very few people use the road and that gives us nice empty roads to stroll on.

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The houses and the river are so scenic, you can never tire of the view. This was a view from our hotel.

Herengracht Canal infront of our Restaurant

Statue of Anne Frank outside her house

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Madame Tussaud, Amsterdam

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Anne Frank’s Wax Statue in Madame Tussaud

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Lady Diana

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Mahatma Gandhi

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Lady Diana and I

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The Windmill at Amsterdam

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The river in Amsterdam at night

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For a lot of people, the cycle is also the main mode of transport. There are separate cycle paths in Amsterdam,

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There is a very famous Diamond company in Amsterdam – Coster Diamonds. The tour of their factory is absolutely amazing.

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Amsterdam is very scenic and beautiful. It is a very chilled out place – the perfect place to destress.

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Many people have built their homes right on top of the river. They live in the middle of the river. How awesome. I wish I could do that.

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I really long to go back and I am sure I will one day.

#Love Hurts


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Ria grew up believing what she saw in movies about Love! The hero would be a tender, star-struck lover who took care of every mood of his beloved. The heroine would have a bed of roses kind of life with no sadness, no discomfort and no pain.

After all she only had movies to turn to, in order to understand love. Her parents, though very loving and caring, were the regular Indian parents who shied away from such subjects. She grew up believing in fairy tales, princes, Shahrukh style romance and belonged to the DDLJ generation.

No one ever told her that this was love. No one ever told her that love was heart wrenching, could wring her heart out, could make her completely vulnerable to being hurt. No one ever told her that she would still feel that it was worth it.

Ria met Sameer five years back in a typical Bollywood style. She was travelling back to Mumbai after her annual vacation to her hometown, Delhi. They got into a conversation in the train and both didn’t realise how the journey ended. They decided to keep in touch even in Mumbai,

They meet regularly over coffee, movies and dinners. Soon, love blossomed between them. However, they didn’t take the conventional route of friendship, love and marriage. Ria, being the hopeless romantic, did want to get married to him, but was willing to wait and was in no special hurry. After all, they were together and that was all that mattered.

They decided to move in with each other. There was opposition from both sides of the family. But they couldn’t stop them, after all they were independent individuals. Ria saw her fairytale life coming true. Sameer was the perfect man of her dreams that she had seen in Bollywood movies. He loved her, pampered her like a princess, yet she never felt like she was being dominated or treated like a fragile doll. They had a relationship of equality. Sometimes, he would surprise her with breakfast in bed and she would surprise him with a candlelight dinner when he came back from work.

It was not that they never had fights. But they would calm down very soon and sort things out rationally. Life continued like this and they had now been living together for two years. Ria expected him to pop the question anytime now. Maybe, he was planning a surprise proposal for her on her birthday which was two weeks away.

Ria couldn’t hide her excitement. He had been hinting at formalizing their relationship since a few weeks and what could be a better day than her birthday. On her birthday, he kissed and wished her and both left for work as usual. There are no hints or any let-ons about a surprise birthday party for her. She is tingling with excitement all day long. He doesn’t call her or message her the entire day.

Ria starts to feel a little disappointed, but then consoles herself that he must have an exceptional surprise planned for her. He had a meeting in town today. Maybe, he got busy and was not able to speak to her. She left for home at 6 p.m. She had had a busy day too with constant client meetings on call. Internet access was limited to only office mail at her workplace. No Facebook, no personal e-mails.

Her client was from Chennai. She was busy in talks with them the entire day. Hence, she didn’t have a chance to speak to any of her colleagues and friends at work. She wrapped up her work and left office in a hurry, all excited for the evening. She was surprised at no calls from Sameer. She tried his number and it was unreachable.

She didn’t think much of it. Maybe he had switched off his phone if he was still in the meeting. She tried to recollect where his meeting was. She reached home, ordered for a special dinner and got dressed for this special evening. It was already nine p.m with no news of Sameer.

To while away time, she switched on the TV and then her whole world collapsed around her. It was 26th November 2008.

My thoughts about my past life!


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I have always been intrigued by past life and what might have been in it. When I hear of cases of people saying that they remember their past life and go back to their birth place from previous lives and relive their experiences, I get very intrigued and follow the story with a lot of interest.

Do you ever go to any place for the first time and feel like you have seen it earlier or meet someone for the first time and you feel astonishingly close to them? I do believe that past lives do exist and I am totally curious about who I must have been in my past life, after reading Indiblogger’s latest topic  #IntuitionofMyPastLife on whom you think you might have been in your past life.

It set me thinking. I have always been intrigued by past life, but I never thought about who I might have been. In this life, I am the kind of person who speaks her mind without any fear, doesn’t mind challenging someone who is doing or saying something that is morally and ethically wrong. I can never see anything wrong happening and walk away quietly  from the scene. I know that it will keep haunting my mind forever that I kept quiet then. I also can’t see injustice happening.

Hence, I feel I must have been a social reformer and a feminist in my past life who must have fought against injustice and equality for women. There is another intriguing thought that I have always had, though I have never mentioned it to anyone. My dadi(father’s mother) went into a coma before I was born and died when I was 3 months old. She was a freedom fighter and had worked with Mahatma Gandhi. I somehow feel that some of her spirit has entered me and made me the brave, strong woman that I am.

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The inner world of an introvert!

You remember that girl in your class who sat with her head buried in books or the guy who sat quietly at the corner of the playground, never participating in the games on the ground.

Having been an introvert for most of my life and still being an introvert in many ways, I am completely understand the people like me. We always ignore those quiet folks as the most boring people around or maybe even ridicule them. They will calmly ignore you and live in their own happy world. But are they boring people, not in the least bit.

People who are introverts live in a world of their own. They let very few people into that world. If you are one of those lucky people who have been allowed into the private world of an introvert, you couldn’t help but agree with me. You wouldn’t meet a more interesting person who is so so much fun to be with, can make you laugh so much and is so lively and carefree.They make every moment spent with them totally worth it.

They have multiple layers to them and as they grow closer to you and start revealing those hidden facets of their personality to you, you will love and enjoy every moment of time spent with them.

So, the next time that you see this quiet and boring looking person sitting in a corner, go and befriend them. If they decide to like you, you are in for the time of your life.

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Lufthansa A380 – The dawn of a new era in Indian Aviation

I love the feeling of being in the air, amidst clouds floating around like soft cotton wool, looking at the earth from the sky, seeing huge seas passing by from the top is an experience that should not be missed. I love all of this and even more about flying. I would forget my fear of heights in a plane and look down and around and enjoy the sights like a kid who is seeing different facets of the world for the first time.

But there was always something that lent a slightly bitter touch to my near perfect experience in a plane. You see, I am tall – 5 feet 8 inches. When I would sit in my seat, I would just keep hoping that the passenger in front of me wouldn’t decide to recline his/her seat to the back. I couldn’t do the same because I start feeling nauseous the moment I recline my seat to the back. Hence I have to keep my chair in a straight aligned position. So, what did it mean for me to be seated behind someone who wanted to recline his/her chair back – less leg space. I would be sitting with my knees cramped against the back of the seat and have a totally uncomfortable journey. This would be even worse, if it was a long flight like say 7-8 hours.

Now, there seems to be a relief in store for people like me who face the same problem. A new era has dawned in the world of Indian Aviation with the launch of #LufthansaA380 – the largest commercial aircraft in history.

Many people in India still prefer a train ride over a flight because the former is more comfortable. However, the increasing workload and tight schedules force people to take flights though the lack of space makes them very uncomfortable. #LufthansaA380 has designed the seats keeping this in mind. They have created narrow seat backs which make you feel like you have your own personal sense of space with no intrusions. The narrow back seats definitely don’t mean an uncomfortable seat. Internationally renowned designers and ergonomics experts have joined up with leading manufacturers to create the perfect seat. The optimized seat structure provides a comfortable amount of leg room, a boon for a tall person like me.

The other problems that Indians face while travelling on a plane is a complete lack of entertainment. It can be very boring, especially in long flights. With Lufthansa Media world, you will have access to 50 programs with films available in upto eight language versions, 30 international radio channels and 100 CD’s featuring different types of music. There is entertainment for fidgety kids too with KidsFun, a program created with the young passengers in mind.

Right now, #LufthansaA380 is plying only between Delhi and Frankfurt, but I hope to see it serving all major Indian cities too soon.

Take a look at the excitement on Delhi’s IGI Airport while preparing for the inaugural flight of the Lufthansa A380,

You can visit the Lufthansa India website for more information: http://a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

#ToiletForBabli – An Initiative to support the health, hygiene and dignity of a female

For four year old Hiya, it was just another regular day in her life. She lived in Khadakpada on the outskirts of Aarey Milk Colony, an area that lies on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the suburbs of Mumbai. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, she stepped out of her house to answer nature’s call. A leopard was possibly lurking in the foliage there and attacked her. Hearing her screams, her father chased the leopard and tried to snatch Hiya from the leopard’s jaws. The leopard retreated, however little Hiya was declared dead at the hospital.

In another incident, seven year old Sanjana Thorat accompanied by her mother and grandmother, stepped out to answer nature’s call in Shankar Tekdi, Mulund Colony, another suburb of Mumbai. A leopard pounced on her, caught her by the neck and dragged her towards the jungle while her mother and grandmother screamed for help. But it was too late for Sanjana.

We are in the 21st Century and 597 million people are still defecating in the open. They have no access to proper sanitation facilities. I live in Mumbai and everyday when we are traveling by local trains, you will see a line of men sitting, defecating in the open on the train tracks with cans of water next to them. Women have to do the same, but they come really early in the morning when there are fewer people around. Mumbai is a very crowded city and there is no such thing as fewer people around. So, a woman loses her dignity everyday.

The case in our villages is even worse. A female, whatever her age(even if she is just a child), will step out to defecate and will most probably be raped and killed, sometimes even gang-raped. This is only because she doesn’t have access to proper sanitation and hygiene. Most of us want to help, but don’t know where to start in a country with such a huge population. We turn away our faces and try to ignore the situation because we feel like a tiny drop in a mighty ocean who doesn’t know how to make a difference even though we feel desperate and helpless seeing their plight and hearing of such incidents everyday. Now, here is your chance.

Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, has started a campaign to make hygienic facilities accessible to all villages across India. Their campaign is called #ToiletForBabli. You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is follow the simple steps below:

“Click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Let us all come together to join Domex in their latest initiative to help make villages open-defecation free.

Everest

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I absolutely hate watching hindi T.V channels nowadays because all you get to see boring and unreal soaps where the women are not seen without a Pallu on their head, sleep with make-up, heavy Sarees and jewellery. All they do is plan and plot against the other women in the show. It was irritating beyond and belief. I have completely stopped watching T.V nowadays.

A few months back, I saw the promos of Everest, a T.V show produced by Ashutosh Gowariker. The promos showed the story of a girl(Anjali) who spent her life longing for her father’s love who wanted a son. Her father is an army officer and he wanted a son who could follow in his footsteps. His dreams are shattered and he has a daughter and spends his life ignoring her.

Anjali has two dreams – She wants is to win her father’s love and do something great in life that will make him proud of her. Her father just wants to be done with her responsibility by getting her married off after her graduation. But, Anjali is determined to do something in life and joins the Mountaineering Course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.

She is a strong, brave girl who believes in the equality of the sexes and her leadership skills come to the fore at the mountaineering course. So far, the TV show has reached till this point.

I have been watching the show regularly and am enjoying the refreshing story with no stupid Saas-Bahu Sagas and shows a normal girl with dreams, ambitions and a warm and caring heart.

Five Point Nothing


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Today, Indian authors are gradually on the rise and some of them are really talented and some just rise on hype. Chetan Bhagat belongs to the second category. He can’t even be called ordinary, he is just a mediocre writer. Be it One Night at the Call Centre, Five Point Someone or Revolution 2020, I haven’t read any books that could be more dull.

The only book that is slightly appealing is 2 States and that could be only because it is a true story. I didn’t even try reading Half Girlfriend. There are so many Indian authors who are extremely talented, but don’t get their just due. And we unnecessarily hype someone who has no appeal as an author.

I am an avid reader since childhood. I have read all types of genres of books and authors. According to me, a good writer is someone who touches a chord in your heart, whether through humour or tragedy. An author should write in a way that it is difficult to keep the book down.

Things have changed a lot in India and it is becoming a lot easier for authors to gain popularity, but we need to be careful whom we put up on a pedestal. Chetan Bhagat is surely not someone who deserves that ranking. Five Point Someone is a very dull story and it is only because Aamir Khan made a masterpiece out of it with 3 Idiots that people made an effort to read the story. Instead of being grateful, Chetan Bhagat gets into a war against Aamir Khan about not getting just dues, inspite of his name being in the credits.

His books are getting worse and worse day by day and I am only wondering how much more boring can he get.