A dive into the chocolate pool!

I don't know if I fall under the category of a chocolate addict. With all the calorie consciousness that I am at times engulfed with, I rarely buy chocolates. But when I give in to temptation and DO buy, I presume it my duty to greedily gulp down the whole bar. Though I must say I enjoyed my shared portion of chocolates during childhood much better. My parents were never the buying little treats every now and then type. (That as grandparents, their views have taken a u-turn is a different story). Buying a big bar of chocolate (which almost always would be Dairy Milk) was a rarity. When the precious thing does arrive, it would be shared equally, among siblings and cousins. I wouldn't say I enjoyed sharing. Nor did I dislike it. It was just the way we ate chocolates back then. But the wait for the occasion was in itself a pleasure, equivalent to the taste of the chocolate.

Then there was this uncle who used to visit Madras on official purposes. His trips were mostly sudden and short ones. But every visit would fetch a dairy milk for the two of us. So when I open the fridge and find the chocolate and if the date was nowhere close to salary day for my parents, it would mean that Bombay uncle has visited.

Because I was the only one in the household who wouldn't drink coffee, Bournvita was the supplement. On weekends (before tea swayed me over) it was bournvita ice-cream. Recipe? Pop the mug of bournvita your mom prepares into the freezer. Voila. That's it. I was slowly lured towards Complan, but since my brother refused to say "I'm a complan boy" there was no fun in me being the complan girl for long.

Bournvita and Dairy Milk. The twin significant part players from Cadbury's in the past weren't enough reason for me to visit Bournville. But since the place was very near to where we had decided to go during the weekend, we went there. It is a quiet and serene countryside though not very far from the hustle bustle of Birmingham City. The signboards, the fence, the gateways, whichever direction you turn, you could see purple. The colour of Cadbury. Normally I dislike theme based colours. I consider them to be loud in emphasising their product. But here it seemed really pleasant. (Though I think it is the "you like someone/somthing so much, you tend to see no fault" thing)

The minute I stepped out of the train in Bournville, I told my husband that I could smell chocolates! OK. I do fantasize a bit. A quick stroll and we stepped into Cadbruy World. I plonked the child in the husband's arms and hopped off. One would think listening to the origin of cocoa beans and conceptualising the idea of milk chocs would be boring. It wasn't, as the demos were in such a way that even an impatient feet shuffler would sit back and listen. Heck, even if it had been boring, I just would not have regretted, as being in a place which made me reminisce fond memories was in itself satisfying!

And surely you would love a photograph of yourself fully made of chocolates? Then there was the world's biggest Cadbury shop. I'd have expected the shop to be really huge, but it wasn't! It is one of those places which really would stay close to my heart. Purple rules and reigns, I say!

When will there be good news?-Kate Atkinson

How hard could it get to put the bitter part of your past behind you? Hard enough, when your shadowy past threatens to strike again.

Six year old Joanna Mason witnesses what a child her age couldn't stomach. The murder of her sister, baby brother and mother, by a complete stranger called Andrew Decker amidst the fields of rural Devon. It couldn't be said that the little girl lost her idyllic happy family, as the happiness was snatched already by her novelist dad who left them all for another woman. Not a self starter by nature, she's prompted by her mum "run Joanna, run!" and she flees before the psycho killer could take her life as well. And is later found safely sleeping behind grass.

Thirty years later, the little girl is Dr.Joannna Hunter (Jo for short) (married to Neil Hunter) and a mother of a young baby. Reggie, 16 (with looks of a child but with an ancient soul) is the mother's help. Chief Inspector Louise, knocks at their door one morning to inform (and warn) about the release of Andrew Decker and the unwelcome media attention that the doctor may be subjected to. Jo reckons it would help to "escape" for a bit.

So one morning when Reggie drops into the Hunters' house, she's sent back by Neil saying Jo has gone to help an ailing aunt for few days. To Reggie it appears that the doctor has "disappeared". Leaving behind her mobile and purse was so unlike the very organised doctor. She voices her suspicions to Louise, who only asks her to stop fantasizing. Only, the mystery surrounding Neil's business and his weird behaviour makes Louise think in the same "disappeared" angle. It turns out that the whole aunt episode is a farce. So has Joanna heard her ancestral voices prompting "run Joanna run" yet again, and fled with the baby to escape from Decker? What would explain Neil's mysterious business which invites legal intervention? Is the intuitive Reggie merely misleading the police force by making a mountain out of a molehill?

The author parallely brings in Jackson Brodie, ex soldier and ex policeman, who ventures out in search of an identity which he never claims till the end. The train he travels crashes and he is saved by Reggie resuscitating him. The cause of the accident is an old Ms MacDonald who is Reggie's tutor. As a return favour, Reggie seeks Jackson's detective knowledge to find Jo. Interestingly, Jackson was the policeman who found 6 year old Jo sleeping in the field where her kin were slaughtered. Would Jackson find Jo again?

The pace of the narration doesn't slacken even once. There are no loose ends. If there are any at all, the reader is not left with any time to ponder on those. The appetite for what happens next, grows with the turn of every page. And the author assures absolute pleasure to the reader with her dry humour and gripping narration. My only problem with the book was Jackson Brodie, the ex cop, portrayed as a person being cheated time and again in his marriages. But hey, successful professionals, at times do end up as personal disasters. On a quick recap of the story once I was done with the book, I did feel that it was the flow and eloquence of the author's prose which superseded the not so unique story.

I understand that this book, though not a sequel, does bear characters from Atkinson's other novels. Some may categorize this as mystery/crime fiction, others may tag this as a family saga. In any case, the book promises a delightful read. Isn't that enough good news ?


The Gift - Cecelia Ahern

I haven't read Cecelia Ahern's more popular PS I love you. Occasionally, reading the gist of some books seem sufficient to me. Also, sometimes for no particular reason, I don't read books/authors which I always see on the shelves. Both the reasons hold good for me not going in for her books. 4th March was World Book Day and the whole month was full of book sale, film nights with movies based on books etc in the library. "The Gift" occupied one of the coveted space for "great reads" in the past month, and I took the chance to read the author for the first time. (This would most likely be the last time as well).

The book starts off with a teenager, in a fit of anger throwing a turkey on the window of his dad's "other woman's" house on Christmas Day. He is detained for this act, and the police chief Raphie, in an effort to put some sense into the boy's head, tells him the story of Lou.

The character "Lou" is no strange one in today's world. He is an ambitious guy, with a high flying career, is married and has 2 kids. He has no time for his family because "Job could fire you, but family will not". He has given his family everything except him, his time and his fidelity. (Bored already?)

Here comes the (supposedly) interesting twist in the tale. One morning on his way to work,he offers his coffee to a man called Gabe, shivering in the cold Irish winter, begging. He's impressed by the young guy and eventually offers him a job in his office. Soon Gabe gets into the good books of everyone in the office. Lou, who always has 2 things to do at the same time, two places to be at the same time,
finds the efficiency and agility of Gabe intimidating. Its almost like Gabe is omnipresent.

Till this point the book seemed promising.

Gabe seeks to help Lou double up (literally) by offering him some pills so he could satisfy his family, while being there at office as well. Lou becomes a star at personal and the professional front. Now, things happen in such a way that make you wonder just WHO this Gabe is. Is he God Himself or a product of Lou's hallucination or a man with powerful knowledge in science and research? You tend to sift through the pages again but will not get any answer. Although I do like it when the reader is left to guess, I dislike it when the reader is left confused, or do I say even betrayed. However, that the ending is a sad one, is a clever move by the author. If not for that, one would definitely tend to dismiss the book as a boring preachy and philisophical sermon. The book does pick up pace here and there but one would prefer a subtle approach to what we all have heard over and over again in our Moral Science classes (value of time etc), than saying time is precious, in so many words. We have never liked advices, have we?

I'm not sure of Cecelia's other books, but this is not the best book to try start reading her works. Because I've read this first, Its going to be difficult if not impossible for me to try her other works.

rating : 2.5/5