The Book that influenced me most in 2017

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I am an avid reader and am mostly never without a book in my hands. Reading is my pleasure, stress-reliever and a source of great happiness to me. Hence, I don’t like to set a target of the number of books that I will read. That takes away the pleasure of reading for me and makes it a task instead of something that I enjoy.

2017 was a very eventful year for me as far as reading was concerned. I was introduced to a lot of genres and different types of books, thanks to a book group I am in on Facebook. It has really broadened my horizons and made reading even more fun and interesting for me.

The latest Indispire topic #Books2017 is a topic I had to write on. I have been introduced to an author I had never read earlier – Kristin Hannah. She is an American author who has won many awards for her books. A lot of her books revolve around the incidents that happened during World War II. The book written by her that really had a deep impact on my mind and affected me profoundly was Winter Garden.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden

The story starts with telling you about two sisters who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese. One stays at home to take care of her children and the family apple orchard and the other is a famous photo journalist, travelling all over the world. The two sisters are almost estranged from each other due to a very strained childhood with an emotionally unavailable mother, even though they had a very loving father.

The two women come together again when their beloved father falls ill and face their cold and unapproachable mother(Anya) again. The only connection that they have with their mother is a Russian fairy tale that she told her daughters at night sometimes, though always incomplete. On his deathbed, the father extracts a promise from their mother that the fairy tale will be told till the end this time. With this begins the journey into Anya’s past in Leningrad during the World War, five decades ago.

The fairy tale will tell you all – who Anya was, what she experienced in life, the truth behind her cold behaviour. You will be introduced to the completely raw, exposed face of Anna. The story will have you crying, break your heart, but don’t stop reading it. The end of the story is totally worth it. It will surprise you, warm your heart and make you cry again. This book is a must must read. This book was definitely my best read of 2017.


The Author Who Made Me Fall In Love With Reading!


I was 11 or 12 years old when I came across her book in the library. I was entering my teens, going through the confusion of the desire to grow up and wanting to remain a child. Her book felt like a guidebook that I could identify with and it stayed with me in all my teen years till adulthood. Even today, the book is one of my favourites. The book is Little Women and the author is Louisa M Alcott. It was her birth anniversary on 29th November.



She was a woman well before her times and her books reflected that. Little Women is a book set in the 1800’s and is the story of four sisters and their journey of growing up from little girls to grown women, their trials and tribulations, their happy and sad experiences. It is a book ahead of its times, it shows a mother who teaches her daughters to be happy, contented and accomplished women whose only aim in life should not be to get a rich husband. She teaches them that a marriage should be based on love and not on material possessions. This book is set in the 1800’s where women were taught that marriage was the ultimate goal of a woman, this book has a mother who tells her daughters that she would rather see them as single, contented women rather than running around looking for husbands or marrying for the wrong reasons.

This book is autobiographical and has many incidents from Louisa May Alcott’s real life. The other refreshing part of the book is that she shows men as real human beings who cry, laugh, feel emotions and are sensitive. The book also shows the beauty of family life, celebrating togetherness and small moments making a home full of love which is better than a big house full of riches and all the luxuries.

This book is my guide and support even today and my go to feel good book and will be forever. I will pass it on to my nieces and daughters, if I ever have any and it will be their lifelong guidebook as it has been for me.

Secret Superstar – A Story of Dreams and Courage!

I had seen the trailers of Secret Superstar when I went to see the theatre to see another movie, since then I was eagerly waiting for the movie to release. The storyline just captured my heart and attention. I am a die-hard Aamir Khan fan. The other Khans refuse to grow and will still be running around trees even when they are 70. But this Khan never ceases to delight with every movie he does.

Coming back to the movie…. Insia is a 14 year old girl from Vadodara with a great talent for music but unable to realise her ambitions due to an oppressive and dominant father who considers daughters as a liability and sons as the treasures of the family. Insia’s father berates and insults his wife, even hitting her violently quite frequently. Insia has two dreams – to become a famous singer and to free her mother from the violent marriage. Whether she is able to fulfill these two dreams is what the movie is about.

There are so many things I loved about the movie. Meher Vij as the battered wife who wants to give her kids the best of everything steals the limelight in the movie. Zaira Wasim as Insia is a delight to watch. Her acting and emotions are expressed so well. However, for me the surprise package in the movie is Chintan Parekh played by Tirth Sharma. Chintan is Insia’s school friend who secretly as a crush on her. He is very very cute and a very natural and gifted actor. Their friendship slowly develops into a sweet love story as he always stands by her, supports her and encourages her dreams. The sweetest scene between them is the password scene in the movie.

Aamir Khan as Shakti Kumaar, a talented music director who gives into the popular crass music demands of producers is exceptional as always. But all through the movie, he doesn’t try to steal the limelight from Zaira Wasim and it is very clear that she is the main protagonist in the movie.

This movie is a must must watch for everyone.

Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai – A Trip Down Memory Lane!

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I am one person who absolutely hates all Hindi TV serials and quite a few English ones too. But the promos of one TV serial caught my attention and made me want to see it. It brought back an era that is long gone and was full of sweetness and simplicity. I feel like Scarlett ‘O’ Hara many times and say – I will not look back on the old days and remember what has gone. But this serial has brought back all the memories and makes me happily nostalgic. Here is the first promo that had this effect on me.

I started watching the serial from the first epiosde and I simply love it. It shows the technology free era before Internet, Whatsapp, Facebook and the wide choice of entertainment available today. It brings back the memories of Wednesday Chitrahaar, Sunday Mahabharat and all those programmes on Doordarshan for which we waited the entire week. It is the days of VCR and video cassettes, music cassettes and walkmans, the favourite drink of our childhood and teens – Gold Spot which we used to drink with a pleasure that the Pepsi and Coke of today can never give us.

The serial is narrated in a flashback by Naina, the main protagonist of the serial who has become a famous writer now. She is recounting the story of her love story with Sameer who joins her school when she was 16. They start by becoming friends as he asks her to help him with his studies till circumstances prevent her from doing so and she is forced to stop talking to him and he is also humiliated in school because of her. He starts to woo her in order to take revenge from her. Will he actually fall in love with her? That’s a mystery that’s not yet revealed.

The story is set in the time that Maine Pyar Kiya was released and perfectly shows the increase in heartbeat that the movie caused in every teenager of that time. Salman Khan and Bhagyashree became the heartthrobs of every teenager and the songs became the love anthems of the entire country.

It is awesome how the era of 90’s has been perfectly recreated in the serial – the drinks we loved, the TV shows that were popular, the clothes we wore that we thought were so hep and the kind we or the teenagers of today wouldn’t be caught dead wearing now. The kind of research and efforts put in to recreate that era in the serial is simply amazing. The serial is a must must watch.

Now grown up me returns to the 90’s and sits with her fingers crossed with stars in her eyes hoping that Sameer actually falls in love with Naina and they end up together ❤ ❤


Winter Garden – A Book I Can Never Forget!


About six month back, I have added a new author to my list of favourite authors. Her name is Kristin Hannah. I have read many of her books but the book that left me speechless is Winter Garden. It is a book that touched me to the core and left me teary eyed by the end. What an amazing way to weave a story! I have read so many books that it rarely happens that I just can’t wait to know what happens in the end. With Winter Garden, I couldn’t put it down till I completed it.

Synopsis of the story

Anya has a warm relationship with her husband but had always been a  cold and distant mother to their two daughters, Meredith and Nina and they have no clue why. The only time she came alive and really connected with her daughters is while narrating a fairy tale, till an incident happens and Anya stops narrating the fairy tale to her daughters. They grow up and Nina moves away to become a journalist while Meredith stays near her parents after marriage. It was only when their father dies and has a last wish for his daughters that the sisters come back together to fulfill his wish.

The wish is – To get their mother to complete the fairy tale. A very silly wish, you’ll say. But it has a whole story full of sadness, tears and a heart-wrenching truth. It is a journey of two daughters getting to know their mother and a woman’s journey of accepting her past and forgiving herself.

This is one book that’s a must read for everyone, irrespective of the gender and whether they love reading or not.

Book Review: Second Chance at Love

second chance

I had walked into a Crossword outlet and was just browsing around. Suddenly, this title in the New Releases section caught my attention and I got interested in it. The name of the book  – Second Chance at Love by Ruchita Misra. I just picked up the book on a whim and it was a complete impulse buy. Did I know it would be a journey with two characters I would fall in love with? No, not in the least.

Bindiya Saran is a cheerful lively girl, but with a troubled past. Samar ‘Satan’ Chauhan is the strict corporate professional whom no one can please, with an even more troubled past. Their worlds collide when they start working on a project together. And they get what they thought they would never get: a second chance at love. But, little do they know that they have a storm brewing that could separate them forever.

I loved the book from the first page to the last. The characters are shown as real people with real faults, they are endearingly human. The story is told in a beautiful and simplistic manner. Each character has an important part in the story and they are etched into the story beautifully. Samar and Bindiya touched my heart with the real, genuine human beings they are and I identified with them. After a long time, I cried while reading a book.

This book is totally a must read for everyone.

Dream With Your Eyes Open – An Entrepreneurial Journey

Ronnie Book Cover without red - Final

Since quite sometime, I have been thinking of starting something of my own. It was sheer providence that I came across Entrepreneur and UTV Founder Ronnie Screwvala’s book ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open – An Entrepreneurial Journey’.

Whether you are just starting out on your own entrepreneurial journey or have been running a business successfully for years, this book is for you. This book will encourage you and tell you that you can do it by sheer grit, optimism and clear thinking. Ronnie Screwvala also highlights the fact that you will make mistakes but it is important to learn from your mistakes and keep moving. The secret is to not give up under any circumstances.

The book tells you that it can be done, however the importance of dreaming with your eyes open is absolutely essential. Ronnie Screwvala takes you through his journey as a budding entrepreneur to the founder of one of the biggest Media companies in India.

Every step of his journey is fraught with risks, some calculated, some uncalculated. Some were successful and some failed. But each step was a learning which he imbibed in his soul and kept moving. As Ronnie Screwvala said “Most people ask me about my successes, not many ask about my failures. It would give me more to talk about.”

Thinking is going through a revolutionary change in India. Earlier people considered havng a job synonymous with security. This is no longer a truth. Today, the job market is very volatile with companies going for quantity over quality. They want people to work for less money, even if it means compromising quality. This is the sad truth. Hence, as Ronnie Screwvala says,”The future belongs to those who no longer teach talented people how to get a job but how to create thriving businesses as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs/professionals in a company.”

With all his successes and victories, the one thing that Ronnie Screwvala continuously emphasizes on is the importance of having a strong team to work with you and back you. He couldn’t specify enough on the importance of retaining talent and not losing them as that proves very expensive for any organization.

A strong team is half the battle won is one of the key messages that he conveys throughout the book.

To summarise, this book is a must read for anyone who is apprehensive of taking that one step towards their entrepreneurial journey. As the author says in the book, don’t keep waiting for that huge investment to start your own business. Start with a small investment, make it a success and the big money will automatically be attracted to you.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone who wants to Dream With Their Eyes Open.

Women Empowerment – A Wrong interpretation

She has always been the perfect woman for me – strong yet vulnerable, emotional yet practical, independent, intelligent and a go-getter. And one day, maybe I will go back to this impression of her.

However, today I am sorely disappointed with Deepika Padukone’s Women Empowerment video for Vogue. Under the title of a woman’s choice, we are saying it’s alright for her to cheat in a marriage, practice bigamy and do what she wants to, totally inconsiderate of anyone’s feelings. And ohh yes, when someone does the same things to her, you see crying pictures, tearful interviews and the works – wait, he is a man. He’s not allowed to do that. She is. What a pathetic example of Feminism and Women Empowerment!

Under the guise of women empowerment, are we actually trying to get the upper hand over the opposite sex? That’s not what we want. We want an equation with the opposite sex where equality exists. Of course, it’s my choice to have a baby or not. But is it only my choice? What if my partner is not ready for a baby? Is forcing fatherhood upon him women empowerment? Or is it threatening him that I can throw you out of my life anytime a sign of women empowerment? If he does the same to you, he will be labeled as insensitive, a jerk and an MCP.
When I had seen the video first by Vogue featuring Deepika Padukone, I had very high expectations. I had expected the real issues – Rape, Dowry, Marital Rape, Child Marriage, not this pathetic example of fake Feminism.

Deepika Padukone had the full choice not to do it and that would have been the real #MyChoice.

Badlapur – Don’t Miss The Beginning


I just needed to go out with friends after a long day of work. My friends were going for a movie and I went along with them. The movie we were seeing was Badlapur.

The movie promos said Don’t Miss the Beginning. And it’s right. If you miss the beginning, don’t watch the movie, because the movie’s first scene is the most important of the scene.

The movie is hard-hitting from the first scene to the last scene. It is a story of what extents can someone go to in order to take revenge. It is a story of impulsive mistakes, cold blooded murders. Varun Dhawan is absolutely esceptional in the movie. His pain, anger and intensity will sear your heart through and through.

Each character in the movie comes with a moral to the story. It is the first movie where I have seen the criminal who destroys the victim’s life giving the victim a new lease of life at the end of the movie.

I won’t give you a synopsis of the movie because the movie must be seen and even the smallest hint of the story will be a spoiler. Hence, this is the shortest movie ever.

Please do go and watch the movie, you will come out raving about it.

Ghatkopar’s Khau Galli – A Gastronomer’s Delight

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I had heard a lot about Ghatkopar’s Khau Galli(Food Street) from my friends and colleagues. Ghatkopar is a suburb of Mumbai. I had heard that you get atleast 25 different types of Dosas there and they are a must try. i had been longing to go since a long time. On Friday, a friend and I made an impromptu plan to go there.

We reached there at about 9 p.m. We were just roaming around and wondering where to start. The food there is all vegetarian street food and it is amazingly clean there and the taste of street food is retained. The dosa seller was right in front of us. However, we wanted to try something also before that. Here are the things that we tried and would completely recommend to everyone.

Hot Spot

We saw this guy who was selling Tikkas. His business name is Hot Spot and he also has his stall in front of Worli Seaface. We had the most amazing Paneer Tikka there. The masala that he uses for marinating the Paneer is something simply different and the Paneer Tikka tastes out of this world.

Sai Swad Dosa

After this, we were ready to try the dosa now at Sai Swad Dosa. We went through the list and actually saw that there are more than 25 varieties of dosas. Experimental that I am with food, I decided to try the Maggi Cheese Dosa. My friend took the Special Schezwan and Manchurian Cheese Dosa. Though all the dosas there are out of this world, nothing can taste better than the Maggi Cheese Dosa – take my word for it. It is simply delicious. That stall is so popular that they have 8 tawas set up and 8 dosas being made at the same time. Still, the waiting time is atleast 20 mins. But, believe me when I say that every minute of wait is worth it. Take a look at this picture of the magic men at work.

Sai Swad Dosa

Naughty Sips and Slices

While we were waiting for the dosas, I saw a small eatery behind Sai Swad Dosa. They had displayed Chocolate Pizza in the menu. I was completely tempted and decided to try it out after the dosa. My friend and I shared the Chocolate Pizza as we were too full after the dosa. But one taste of the pizza and we were hooked completely. It was extraordinary. Take a look at this picture and get ready to drool.

Chocolate Pizza

Me and Chocolate Pizza

After this, we thought we were completely done and then the owner of the eatery came and told us that they had very good Falooda. He told us about the Fusion Falooda – it is a combination of vanilla icecream. rose syrup, dryfruits and fruits. We accepted his suggestion and decided to try it out. It was mindblowing to to say the least. Take a look at the picture and see for yourself.

Fusion Falooda

In the end there were two totally happy faces after stuffing ourselves so much who were not able to even walk at all. A trip to Khau Galli at Ghatkopar is a must and an experience you will never forget.

© Arti Deshpande