The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

This super-quick read might look ordinary, but it is anything but. What a creative way to explain the perils and pleasures of love! Although it is difficult to pick one favourite, here is mine…

“love, n. I’m not even going to try.”

Posted by Pooja Chopra Goel on Tuesday, 23 February 2016


The Book Thief

Just finished re-reading Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story – #TheBookThief. I just don’t know how to describe this one… I can only think of contrasting adjectives – happy and sad, hopeful and heartbreaking, depressing and cheerful… It is difficult to highlight one favourite quote from the book, but I love the way the narrator (Death) wraps up, “I am haunted by humans.”


Let’s celebrate the joy of reading

Perfect emotions, a touching story, earthy music… The latest #Kindle commercial, shot by Cannes winning ad film maker Ram Madhvani, has it all. You totally nailed it, and gave me the best type of goosebumps. It demonstrates the journey of a reader in such a simple, yet powerful way! Let’s celebrate the joy of reading… :)

Reading Dongri to Dubai

D2DWhen I watch movies, read books or listen to music, I look for some real intense emotions! Usually, fiction novels do the trick for me. Fiction books have that power… They have great characterization, gripping plot, and strong dose of emotions… That is one reason why I have never been a fan of non-fiction. Only a handful that I read had that spirit. But this non-fiction, that I am reading currently, has overwhelmed me, but in a positive way. #DongriToDubai, a gangster non-fiction, is not just another book. It offers some rarely-heard-of details of the Bombay underworld. It shocks you! It keeps you on the edge. The book chronicles the history of the Bombay mafia; in many instances it attempts to portray the human side of the notorious gangsters, leaving you in a state of perpetual wonder… In some situations, you almost feel it is okay to blame the situation than the person in question… A must-read, I say.

A Snapshot of Vidyanand Joshi

Vidyanand_JoshiIncredibly charismatic, this communication skills professor is like a dream come true for any student; his massive and ever-growing fan following is a proof of that. Prof. Vidyanand Joshi aka VJ is and will always be on the top of my list of favourite teachers/professors. I still remember every detail of our interactions… From the very moment he entered into the classroom for the first lecture to the day he and Gowri Ma’am came to see me at my place just before my wedding. I was super-emotional on his last day with our batch and I am glad we stayed in touch after college. He’s very gentle, incredibly courteous, totally supportive, an amazing teacher, has a great sense of humour… I can go on and on. I think he’s just amazing and it was a total privilege to be his student.

In this sizzling interview, VJ ( reveals his first crush, talks about his favourite music, his favourite book, awesome Mondays, his love for wildlife and a lot more. Read on…

  • Give me a brief description about yourself.

I am a 36 years young, positive, cheerful motivator! A nature-lover by passion and a teacher by profession. Anything mysterious in nature excites me and fascinates me to the core! I find routine and mundane tasks boring, so I have by choice selected a self-employed career of a behavioural trainer and educator. People say I am friendly, popular, flirty, approachable and understanding. And I add by saying that I am also egoistic, judgemental, lazy, overconfident and low on risks! Let others discover who I am… So, everyone is most welcome to get a peep into who am I. But remember, only a peep allowed! Lol!

  • Describe your Sundays.

All my Sundays are working. I conduct academic lectures and workshops for people who have enrolled for executive MBA. So, it’s 10 to 7 full day work! But my Monday mornings are highly exciting; when the whole world cribs and moans about a manic Monday, I am normally off to a nice nature trail.

  • What music are you listening to at the moment?

Various genres interest me. Right now I am listening to mostly heavy metal songs on my car CD player. So, when bands like Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica are blasting their drums off, my speed takes off at a new level as well.

  • What was the last film you saw?

Kai Po Che. It’s a brilliantly directed, well-written and very naturally performed entertainer. It had a bit of everything: romance, friendships, ambitions, violence, socio-political drama and even pre-marital sex! Loved the movie… I’d give it four out of five stars.

  • What would be your dream holiday location and why?

There are many. I’d love to visit Amazon rainforest in South America, Borneo islands of Indonesia, Kalahari desert in Africa, Alaska in North America, Mt. Everest in Nepal, the Siachen Glacier on Indo-Pak border, Komodo islands near Philippines, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh and many many more. The reason for all these places is common: exclusive and adventurous wildlife experience. Each place has a unique wildlife offering and I am a die-hard nature-lover waiting to explore the mysteries of Mother Nature.

  • What is your favourite book? What was the last book you read?

My favourite book that I’ll recommend to everyone is – ‘Pulling your own strings’ by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It’s about understanding that life is in your own control so don’t let others rule you! Currently, I am reading a Marathi book – ‘Paakharmaya’ by Maruti Chittampalli. It’s about birds and their social behavior.

  • Tell me about your first crush.

My first crush was in the 2nd standard! Yeah, you read it correct! Sheetal was her name. We used to sit together on the same desk from 1st standard to 3rd standard. We used to share our tiffin food, play a lot, fight a lot, have long telephonic chats after school (at age 5-6). I don’t know where she is now, but I hope she too remembers me as her first crush. Lol. I hope my wife is not reading this.

  • What’s a food treat for you? What foods do you detest?

I am an emotional eater, so it is more of mood poisoning for me. A treat for me would be a large bowl full of freshly cut nice juicy fruits; I am aging, you know. Also, I can’t resist any egg preparations, gujarati snacks, pav bhaji, nutritious dals, kebabs and lots of creative sandwiches. Foods that I detest would be anything that floats in oil, has hot red gravy, is too spicy; also I don’t like sweets nowadays!

  • Do you have a bucket list?

While I believe that I have already achieved much more than what I was expecting in life, but being human, I always have that urge to want more and more. So, before I say goodbye, I wish to travel around the world and see all the animal species in the nature, want to learn some instrument like violin or guitar, learn basics of dancing and singing, want to act in a movie or a serial in a brief role, eat all the interesting cuisines around the globe, want to meet god face-to-face, want to spend each and every moment of my life with my wife and my doggies, want to say sorry to all those who are hurt because of me, want to say thank you to all those who made a great difference in my life, want to own some classic cars like Buick Roadster and Rolls Royce, want to try my hand at writing poems, want to be a mentor to millions of youngsters, want to see Van Halen and Whitesnake perform live, want to be a proud son to my parents and the list goes on and on!

A Snapshot of Urmi Mukherjee

Tj8f6aMBues0Jw9vNB29hwAlmost ten years ago, this dynamic, fun, unapologetic, explosive, brilliantly sharp and utterly fearless diva came into my life. I am so glad she did. She is someone who made me realise it is okay to say, “Screw you, world. This is what I am. And this is what I will be!” If anything has made me love her so much, it’s her attitude about staying true to yourself and knowing the right people will love you because of it. I love and respect her for being who she is.

Miss Mukherjee, I still remember all our late night chats; yes yes, with all the details :P Of course, I won’t/can’t share what we discussed but those conversations were fun for sure. Fun in true sense, fun to the core.

This conversation unveils the Urmi I know, it reveals the other side of her. The side not many people know I believe. The sensitive and emotional side of her. Beneath that tough exterior she puts on, lies a soft and mushy centre.

In this exclusive interview, Urmi Mukherjee ( talks candidly and a little fiercely about her crazy experiences, her bucket list, her first crush and a lot more. Read on…

  • Give me a brief description about yourself.

I can never go brief (in description and otherwise LOL). I also have two sides to me, which one would you like me to introduce? The sober side of me is writing this. Drop by after dusk to see the other me :D I live life in extremes which of course creates serious imbalance and chaos but I don’t care and I love the drama! I thrive on family, friends and protection of nature and vulnerable elements. I am sleazily emotional in matters of the heart, but I remain unapologetic. It makes me what/who I am (good, bad or ugly). I reserve logic and willpower for worldly experiences and achievements. My motto is life dictates me to be true to my soul (irrespective of having to follow wrong over right; unethical over moral, sin over good and other such man made criterions of assessment), and I am notorious for being unpredictable, intense, stubborn, and a slave to my passions. I enjoy giving myself completely to everything I do – and that includes doing something as small as cleaning my bathroom or kitchen.

  • Describe your Sundays.

If not sulking, brooding or working, I can be found cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and dishes, catching up with friends and volunteering at a local rehab centre.

  • What music are you listening to at the moment?

Heart stops beating, Paul Van Dyk.

  • What was the last film you saw?

A blue film (joke). The Fighter.

  • What would be your dream holiday location and why?

Considering I love movement and change, my ultimate dream travel experience would see me explore every nook and corner of India through a couple months long expedition, living out of a backpack (which I have done on several occasions) and follow the local life (including customs, food, clothing, lodging, etc.) of that place for a couple days before I move on to the next destination.

  • What is your favorite book? What was the last book you read?

I am a voracious reader and harbour interest in a wide array of topics including philosophy and biographies. I am currently reading The Litigators by John Grisham. The book is special because it was gifted to me by a stranger I bumped in to at London. He turned out to be a world renowned 28 year old Mathematician from Oxford, and I baffled him demanding we never stay in touch after that day. Haa haa (Blame it on my attraction towards the extraordinary!). He never found out my name, all I disclosed was my field of work (although he told me a great deal about himself not knowing what was coming). True to my wishes, we never spoke after that meet. He signed the book, “To a lovely crazy lady!”

  • Tell me about your first crush.

I was 8, a nuisance and trouble maker in class, while he was the ideal role model student. I never did anything about it, but turns out, years later, he confessed I was his first crush too! Nothing ever happened, and we are great friends today.

  • What’s a food treat for you? What foods do you detest?

Until a year ago, I ate everything and I mean everything. Today I appreciate healthier food choices, and I prefer fixing my own meals (let me boast a bit and mention the accolades my culinary skills have garnered over the years :P). I cannot resist Chinese cuisine. I detest sugary food.

  • Do you have a bucket list?

Absolutely. I intend to own a sports car, live in a real house (not an apartment) with a vegetable patch and a little farm type set up with animals, adopt a daughter (I don’t care about marriage but soul mate I do care about), write columns, give out baking lessons, own a wellness centre, and partner up in a law firm.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is one book that I never wanted to end; it stirred my mind and soul. Instead of walking you through the plot of the book, I’ve compiled some of my favourite quotes that will give you a glimpse into Shantaram:

  • “Sometimes we love with nothing more then hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all we have to hold on tight until dawn.”
  • “The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men, he said. It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds, and bad deeds. Men are just men it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone the noblest man alive or the wicked has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward god.”
  • “Lovers find their way by insights and confidences; they are the stars they use to navigate the ocean of desire. And the brightest of those stars are the heartbreaks and sorrows. The most precious gift you can bring to your lover is your suffering.”
  • “I pressed my lips against the sky, and licked the stars into my mouth. She took my body into hers, and every moment was an incantation. Our breathing was like the whole world chanting prayers. Sweat ran in rivulets to ravines of pleasure. Every moment was a satin skin cascade. Within the velvet cloaks of tenderness, our backs convulsed in quivering heat, pushing heat, pushing muscles to complete what minds begin and bodies always win. I was hers. She was mine. My body was her chariot, and she drove it into the sun. Her body was my river, and I became the sea. And the wailing moan that drove our lips together, at the end, was the world of hope and sorrow that ecstasy wrings from lovers as it floods their souls with bliss. The still and softly breathing silence that suffused and submerged us, afterwards, was emptied of need, and want, and hunger, and pain, and everything else except pure, ineffable exquisiteness of love.”
  • “My heart broke on its shame and sorrow. I suddenly knew how much crying there was in me, and how little love. I knew, at last, how lonely I was. But I couldn’t respond. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still, and gave no reaction at all. But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.”
  • “I clenched my teeth against the stars. I closed my eyes. I surrendered to sleep. One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”
  • “I was thinking about another kind of river, one that runs through every one of us, no matter where we come from, all over the world. It’s the river of the heart, and the heart’s desire. It’s the pure, essential truth of what each one of us is, and can achieve. Shantaram, which means man of peace, or man of God’s peace. They nailed their stakes into the earth of my life, those farmers. They knew the place in me where the river stopped, and they marked it with a new name. Shantaram Kishan Kharre. I don’t know if they found that name in the heart of the man they believed me to be, or if they planted it there, like a whishing tree, to bloom and grow. Whatever the case, whether they discovered that peace or created it, the truth is that the man I am was born in those moments, as I stood near the flood sticks with my face lifted to the chrismal rain. Shantaram. The better man that, slowly, and much to late, I began to be.”