The Forbidden Temple-The Book Review

Hey guys, it’s me, your favourite blogger!!! And I’m back with a brand spanking new book review! Today’s post centres around the unconventional book that the Forbidden Temple is.
This book is a path breaker of various levels and is set in the tumultuous region of Bod, or as we know it today, Tibet!!! Despite the fact that it is an extremely sensitive region, whose ownership is a global dispute, author Patrick Woodhead has taken a leap of faith like no other before him. And it’s paid of !!!

The foundation of the book is based on a what if situation involving the disappearance of The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Chinese plot to prop a puppet Lama( Gyancain Norbu) & the inadvertent stumbling of our British protagonists, Luca Matthews & Bill Taylor into this chaotic mess. Simple mountaineers they may be, but their entry further complicates this tangled web.

Now, did this book survive my 3 pillars of a good read, the very mention of which send authors into frenzied panic? Sure as hell did!!! And here’s how.

1.Duration– Some people say that more pages mean a better reading experience. I disagree. Sure many of the greatest works in literature are massive, but that doesn’t mean that big is better. A long book, after a certain point in, gets tiresome. It becomes so long that the book seems to drag on forever! Small isn’t the best either, an extremely short book would leave the reader yearning for more detail, for more continuity, would leave them with 101 questions to be answered. There needs to be a balance.

The book sits inside the 350-375 bracket of pages, a great combination which strikes a near perfect balance between holding the reader’s attention and giving enough importance to an intriguing plot. Personally, I would have liked the book to have had a few more pages, around the 400 page mark as I felt that it would have allowed the author to express the plot in a more wholesome way, but that’s just a very minuscule preference of mine which should absolutely not deter you from buying this spectacular book.

2.Plot– What good is a book, without a great plot?

The fact that this plot is a spin-off based on a real event might make you think that the author would have struggled to surprise or intrigue the reader. That assumption has absolutely no ground in The Forbidden Temple! Patrick Woodhead has taken leaps of imagination, which appear clichéd at first, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll discover a rabbit’s hole of several niche sub-plots which later climax in the most surprising way possible.

3.Artwork– The front & back cover & the images within a book are often what prompt people to buy them.

This book features a golden hue cover featuring a traditional Tibetan monastery with the breath-taking peaks of the Himalayas looming above it, thus creating a majestic cover page that will surely grab your attention.

At the end of the day, this is a book which doesn’t really fit into any particular genre. You want some info on Tibet & Tibetan Buddhism, this book has it. You want adventure coupled with fantastic storytelling, this has it. If you are an aspiring mountaineer and you want some basic tips, this book has it. You want a successor to the Da Vinci code, you got it!! All in all, this is a simply an unputdownable that keeps you riveted to the very end.

Hope you guys loved this review & are excited for the next one. Please do comment on how I can improve my reviews . Also do feel free to share books you feel I should review. Here’s the catch, they have to be written by regional authors. So for example, I live in India , so I would recommend a book like Amish Triparti’s Shiva trilogy. Hope to see your recommendations soon, Till next time, toodles!! 😉



Bittersweet memories

Hey guys, welcome to my first blog post of 2017, sorry 2018 (still haven’t quite gotten used to saying that ) . I hope all of you have a fantabulous & exciting new year!!!! But for me this new year hasn’t exactly gotten of to a smooth start. You see, it all began on Monday morning. I was busy demolishing the formidable stack of that day’s newspapers. Suddenly, when I was in the middle of a gripping article, a flyer caught my eye. I usually ignore them, presuming them to be filled with details that only my Grandma or mom would find interesting, but not this one, no, for this one contained words that struck an arrow through my heart, for it proclaimed the closure of Eloor Lending Library, one of Chennai’s most reputed libraries!!!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-16,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-veEloor Lending library- Exterior

This news was doubly heart wrenching for me as this was the library that had sparked & nurtured my passion for books. When I was young, the only source of  stories was my grandfather, who commanded such a vast storehouse of knowledge and tales which he used endlessly to regale me. But as I grew older, this was not enough to satisfy my voraciousness & I soon began to search for more avenues.

Up till that point, I was restricted to my native language of Tamil & couldn’t converse in other languages. My report cards soon began to back this up!! My dad soon took it upon himself to reverse this horrifying trend & initiated me into the world of English. However he didn’t exactly get what he’d bargained for. As I remember him recounting to my mother ” What monster have I unleashed?! “. I had completed his entire stack of books & was clamouring for more ( It didn’t exactly help that I was 7 yrs old, the very height of endless energy & naughtiness) . Soon ( after the destruction of precisely, 3 bathrooms, 500 pillows, 347 mattresses & the breakage of countless pieces of furniture) , my parents realised that the only way to curb my excessive energy was by providing me with an endless supply of books. This is where Eloor came in.

My dad had been one of the library’s first patrons & had assisted this library in expanding its store of computer related books( This was back in the 90’s , when he was still a student). So it was natural that he was to bring me here. And the rest as they say is history. I soon began to borrow over 20 books during my visits & became fast friends with the librarians. We endlessly talked about everything underneath the sun, from politics to why Jughead is awesome. This is where my unique style of reading( The 3 pillars) was forged.  My favourites during that time was Asterix & Obleix,  Tintin, Calvin & Hobbes, The Spy dog series, the Archie’s comics & several standalones of which the library contained rows of.

My favourite person in the library was ‘Oil’ Uncle( called so because his previous job was selling tins of ghee & desi oil), the security guard. A jovial man who was always delighted to see us. As the years progressed, I soon began to venture into more & more different genres & I was soon regarded by both my seniors & juniors as a Juggernaut in this language.  When I reached 7th standard, I had exhausted even this library’s extensive resources & soon began to turn my gaze towards the e-book craze. But that didn’t stop me from still continuing to borrow books from Eloor. I even assisted the librarians in updating their books, so as to improve patronage.

But it seems that my efforts were in vain. The librarian recounted that though this had helped bump up patronage, the business had been running on a loss for the last 2 years & the rent they paid was also quite expensive.

As soon as I read the flyer, I had rushed to father & urged him to drive me to the library at once. Once we reached, I rushed in to confirm the news. The head librarian replied in affirmative & said that they were also selling off all their books. I immediately ran in & collected all of my favourites, books that were not just pieces of paper but allies, my brothers in arms. I was however distraught to find that some of them had already been sold off. We bid farewell to all the librarians & exchanged numbers, so as to stay in touch. Even ‘Oil’ Uncle, who possessed an ever smiling face, also looked lost & saddened.

Patrons scrambling to buy their favourite novels

The next day, newspapers throughout Chennai began publishing articles, biding farewell to this great icon. I have cut these articles out of the paper & they, along with the 20 odd books I purchased, will serve as a reminder of the carefree days I spent there.  However, this is by no means the end of the road for Eloor, no. It’s spirit lives on in the hearts of every person who loves & cherishes books, who feel that they open doors into a new world.

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-16,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-veThe author along with a few of his purchased books

I hope I have been able to give you guys a peek into my love for books & the sense of brotherhood I feel for this library. Until next time, farewell my friends!!!


What does this actually represent???

Hey, it’s me, the blogger back with a new post! Most of you of have seen this symbol right? It can be seen everywhere from public toilets to houses.

We know it as the wheelchair symbol, but its formal title as per the ISO( International Organization for Standardization) is the International Symbol of Access.

When I first heard about this, I was thoroughly confused. Everyone from my peers to even my Lawyer cousin were unclear as to what the symbol means. At a certain point, even I began to wonder, is this just some rumour spread through WhatsApp or a genuine fact? So I did some digging & what I found was really interesting.

One of the main reasons that people are perplexed about the meaning of this seemingly plain symbol may stem from how the symbol came about & why. In 1968, The International Commission of Technology & Accessibility held a design contest ( though I’m not sure how they would have had the time to say all that every time they gave an award) They were looking for something that would be recognizable no matter the distance( self descriptive), simple, practical & couldn’t be confused with existing symbols.

The winning design which for some weird reason didn’t have a head, was designed by Susanne Koefed, a Danish designer. With the addition of a head the following year made it more relatable & boy did succeed in doing that, because by the next ten years, it was endorsed by not just the ISO but by the United Nations themselves!!!

Without pizzazz or commotion, a global icon was born. But come the 2000s & even this simple sign needed an update. So the Graphic Artists’ Guild took it upon themselves & added more rounded, human-ish features. Then in 2012, The Accessible Icon Project came up with a more, shall we say, souped- up variant.

But this doesn’t really answer the question about this sign’s purpose. To put it simply, it is a sign which is used to indicate where there are accessible amenities like toilets or restaurants  . The strength of such Globally recognizable image is that no matter the tongue you speak , the country you are in, or the clothes you wear, if you require such facilities, the sign shows the way. So the next time you decide to visit a foreign country & are caught in ” I need a bathroom” situation but don’t understand the language? Don’t  worry, because the trusty wheelchair will show the way.

Ok, now you’re probably thinking ” If it’s that simple, then why is there so much confusion about this?” . That comes from the term accessibility & what it actually means.  Many people assume that since the symbol is about a wheelchair, the accessible facilities are only meant to be used by those who use wheelchairs or those who have a visible physical condition. But accessibility is a diverse concept that applies to plethora of conditions, ranging from people with autism to autoimmune diseases, like lupus.

In fact the World Health Organization estimates that they are approximately 1 billion people who suffer from some form of disability. So look to your left & look to your right because statistically you live in a world where even your best friend could differently abled. And people who use wheelchairs make up only 15% of the total amount. The vast majority suffer from non-visible disabilities. So these accessible amenities have to be designed keeping this whole group in mind.

In recent years, several people have begun to question whether the symbol is really appropriate for what it’s meant to do. This is not just about encompassing the masses but also because people tend to be abusive & intolerant towards people without visible disabilities. This symbol, which was meant to unite the human race has sadly been warped & instead used to further divide us.

There is however a ray of hope. The recent redesigns have attempted to address the concerns about the current symbol. There is a growing acceptance towards differently abled people & this new generation of movers & shakers is to be given much of the credit. In order to highlight this & signal the beginning of a new era, some advocate a complete re-design, but it’s a strenuous task, how do you replace something that is familiar through out the globe. And what will be it’s successor?

I hope this post has given you a better understanding of this universal symbol & its origins. Hope you enjoyed reading this post & are eagerly awaiting more. Until next time, May The Force be with You.


The different ways we say “Hello”

Hey guys, it’s me your favourite blogger!! I For the past 2 weeks, but I had exams & just couldn’t find the time :(. But now I’m back & I’ve got one amazing post to share with you!!

Do you know why we say the word “hello?” when we answer a call?

Well, we can thank Alexander Graham Bell‘s  & Thomas Alva Edison’s rivalry for that ( I know what you’re thinking, wasn’t Nikola Tesla , Edison’s arch nemesis? Well he was but I guess Edison had a bone to pick with almost every single genius of his time) Bell, the inventor of the telephone felt that the traditional greeting should be “Ahoy!” while Edison championed the usage of the word ” Hello” which was at that time, the equivalent of saying LOL. Due to the rise of phonebooks, which often mentioned Hello as the official word, it soon caught on & the rest as they say, is history . But there’s something even more fascinating than this. Now, the question arises ” What can possibly be more interesting than a grumpy old Edison?” Well the fact that that isn’t the only way we say hello!

Now you’re probably scratching your head wondering ” Hello is Hello! How can it be different?” Well then you’re probably going to get the shock of your life There are over 198 countries in this world & each one & every one of them have an unique way of saying “Hello!” Now I can’t cover all of them at one go but what I can do is give you a glimpse into this crazy reality.

  1. Mongolia- In Mongolia, when two people greet one another during a ceremony, festival or other special occasion, they will offer their snuff bottles in the upturned palm of the right hand, with the lid partially opened. Snuff is a scented, smokeless tobacco made from ground up tobacco leaves. The person receiving the snuff bottle will take out a pinch of snuff by using the small spoon which is attached to the lid. They then place the pinch of tobacco on the back of their hand before “snuffing” it up their nose. Even if you don’t want to sniff any snuff that day, it’s respectful to hold the bottle close to your nose, to smell the fragrance before passing it back. Snuff bottles are always given and received with the right hand.

2.India- My homeland is home to so many different greeting styles that I’ve simply lost count! Now many people think that the quintessential greeting here in India is “Namaste”. Now while the folding of hands & bowing of head is generally widespread, the word used while greeting differs from state to state & even city to city! Now since I live in Tamil Nadu, our word of choice is “Vanakkam”. So the next time you visit India, please do find out what the traditional greeting word used in that region, believe me when I say, it will open doors for you!

3. Middle East-Emirati men greet each other by rubbing their noses! So drop the stereotype that only red Indians do this people! Emirati men, in fact, greet each other by rubbing their noses!  Apparently, this is a traditional Bedoiun greeting and rubbing noses is a sign of deep respect.

4.China- Bowing is to show a sign of respect. By lowering your head below the person you are bowing to, you are showing that they are of higher standing than you are. Traditionally, people would greet each other by putting together the palm of their left hand with the fist of their right hand and say hello. This is also a thing of the past, but some Chinese would still do it on special occasions to bring back the atmosphere.

So as you can see , the different ways we greet each other are as diverse & unique as we are ! Hope you enjoyed this post & are eager for more! Until next time, farewell!


The Rajapalayam Records

Hey guys, Welcome to my favourite type of post, A travel Post!

Today’s post revolves around my awe-inspiring trip (and I was going all alone, no parents!) to a small town by the name of Rajapalayam, about 560 km from my hometown, Chennai.

Many of you may not have heard of this spectacular place nor have any clue as to where it is located. Well if you looked at the emblem of the Tamil Nadu government, you would see the Gopuram (Gateway Tower) of the Srivilliputtur Andal Temple, a renowned temple throughout southern India. Well, Rajapalayam is barely a stone’s throw from this famous (Not just for the goddess but also for a tasty milk sweet called Paal-Guava) temple town.

My visit was from 27th of September to 2nd October (celebrated as Gandhi Jayanthi in India). Though it may seem as a short time span, trust me it was totally worth it & we would have stayed longer if not for the fact that school (damn!) came calling the next day. I travelled here with a 14-member team of MNS (Madras Naturalist Society) an organization in which I am the youngest life member. Our hosts were Mr.T.S Raja of WAR (Wildlife Association of Rajapalayam), Cool name right! and his team comprising of Mr.Gandhi, Santhosh Anna, Mr.Vishnu Shankar & Mr.Pranav  – they were absolutely amazing people who genuinely loved what they did & it was their company that we treasured the most during our stay.

So let’s begin the trip shall we? It all started at the Koyambedu Private Bus Stop in Chennai. The Departure time was 7:45 pm, seems simple enough doesn’t it? Well for me that time was like a timer on a time bomb! Why? I had sort of, kind of bungled up my packing time which resulted in me getting stuck in the middle of one of Chennai’s legendary traffic snarls. And to rub salt in my wounds, it was pouring cats & dogs. My phone showed that it was 5 minutes to board. Terrified, I leapt out of the car & then began a series of panic-stricken running towards the Bus depot, while carrying 2 massive pieces of luggage in one hand, babbling on the phone with the bus driver, trying to hold the bus as much as possible, all this in the middle of the thunderstorm of the century!Finally, thanks to the fact that Chennai’s traffic was as slow paced as a sloth,  I was able to catch the bus. Needless to say that I was drenched from head to toe, causing some of my fellow passengers to crack jokes on my part.

(Disclaimer: You are going to read a lot of scientific gibberish so if you have a spinning head at the end of each para, don’t worry, it’s completely natural. Also these name of the species changes almost every year so don’t worry if a streaked fantail warbler become  a zitting cisticola)


Day 1: Ayyanar Kovil

The 14-member team of MNS gathered at 9 am at Hotel Anandas, Rajapalayam to head towards Ayyanar Kovil, which is one of the key locations on the Western Ghats that skirts Rajapalayam. The trek started at the temple & was about 8 kms in distance. Near the temple was the residences of the forest natives (now more or less assimilated with “modern civilization”). We were accompanied by Mr.Karuppaiya, whose very spirit was interlinked with the forest & its residents.

Now Rajapalayam’s virgin forests were simply bursting with wildlife and a specific spot near a water stream had once recorded 231 species of butterflies (if that doesn’t seem astounding, well consider the fact that Tamil Nadu itself has only 306 butterfly species!). Among the species spotted by us, the presence of the Great Orange Tip, Common Banded Peacock and Blue Mormon (India’s 2nd largest butterfly) made this tiny piece of land seem like the famed Gardens of Paradise. As we moved on, our team could see different dragonflies and damson flies which were happily sculling near the water streams. The team stopped to take a detailed look at the symmetrical leaves and discussion on the significance of Maha Vilvam tree (a sacred tree dedicated to Lord Shiva).


Now we naturalists are a peculiar bunch, something as tiny as a Pill Bug invokes a passionate discussion on its distinction with similar looking Wood Louse but the pug marks of a dhole/Palm civet doesn’t really make the crew jump up & down in excitement (to be fair, the group consisted of mostly bird & butterfly lovers). So anyway, after a series of slips & slides, we reached a pristine stream at the top of the mountain. At the sight of water, the group went berserk, each one trying to be the first to fill their bottles / swim / explore in the magical waters.

From there, we headed to a school named Chinmaya Vidyalaya run by Ramco Group
(now you know that I am not the most school friendly person on this planet but this school actually surprised me with its emphasis on nature & modern technology, two things which I feel are indispensable in today’s world), is spread over 36 acres. We were stunned by the presence of  800 yr. old African Baobab tree at the school. This behemoth of the forest stood at  80 ft. & had a diameter of 25 ft.

Later in the evening, Mr.Ramachandra Raja, MNS Life Member and a Senior Director of the Ramco Group hosted us with a fabulous dinner which was followed by naturalist Mr.Santhosh sharing his experience and photographs of birds and wildlife he has captured over a period of 3 years.

Day 2: Sastha Kovil

Sastha Kovil (yes another temple, this one in honour of Ayappa) was the starting point for our next trek, this was as long as 16km! The Forest Guard who accompanied us kept repeating the same thing throughout the trek “you should have come during Monsoon, you’ll see everything

Contrary to his statement, we did see quite a few bird & butterfly species, one of which, the Autumn Leaf Butterfly, caused quite a stir at it was the first time it had been spotted in Tamil Nadu!

In the night, some of us took the night walk, where we were fortunate to spot the Indian Night Jar and Mottled Wood Owl.

Day 3: Shenbaga Thoppu/Kattalazhar Kovil

This was an unusual trek as along with our team of 14, several locals were attempting the back-breaking trek to Kattalazhar temple to seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu, as Puratassi (the month in the Tamil Calendar) was sacred to him.

Brain Fever Birds welcomed us from all directions, which later was beaten by the Bonnet Macaque and Langurs. We also spotted some Grizzle Giant Squirrels which were endemic to the area. The Southern Birdwing, which is the largest butterfly in India was a sight for sore eyes as we completed the gruelling trek.

Energy & waistline lost during the trek was replenished thanks to a full banana leaf meal at the 100+ yrs old Hotel Kathiravan.

With due pomp & ceremony, we bid adieu to Rajapalayam at 5:30 pm via the Silambu Express, but the memories we made there can never be forgotten.

Well, that’s all for today folks, thanks for joining me on this massive blog post & I Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, until next time, Goodbye.





Hi dear readers, I am back with a new adventure that you will love! It all started in the new domestic terminal of Chennai. My family and I along with my friend`s family were all set to board a flight to Mysore. The terminal`s modern features along with it`s highly equipped and efficient staff took flying to a whole new level. We were tingling with excitement, for we were going to one of Tamil Nadu`s wildlife hubs, Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary!!

Wikipedia says “The Mudumalai sanctuary lies on the northern and north-western side of the Nilgiris (Blue Mountains), about 80 km north-west of Coimbatore in the extreme north-western corner of Tamil Nadu, on the interstate boundaries with Karnataka and Kerala states in southern India”.

As we boarded the 1 hour long flight , I was filled with excitement as this was a wildlife trip, I loved animals and wanted  to become a wildlife researcher when I grow up. We landed in Mysore at  10:30 a.m, after a short rest we took a car which was assigned to take us to Mudumalai .It was a long and weary drive, as we drove through Karnataka and then entered Tamil Nadu.


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