Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Release Day Blitz for Coke ~ 14th October

About the Book:
“Can you help me, please?”
Pradipta wheeled around.
Standing behind was an unusually attractive lady. She wore a dark blue, chiffon saree which set off her fair complexion even more. Other than a thin gold chain with a tear-drop pearl pendant on her neck, she wore no jewelery. Her lips were pale pink, with no lipstick. Only the dark make-up on her eyes made her look even more unfathomable.
 “You’re talking to me?”
Thus begins Coke, with this chance encounter at Kathmandu airport. But the plot thickens when the lady requests him to include her suitcase as part of his checked in baggage and then does a vanishing act, once the aircraft lands in Calcutta. What follows is a riveting page-turner, replete with unexpected twists as you encounter gangs warring over narcotics, policemen, functionaries, and a sinister master-mind who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. The furiously paced narrative takes you from the sleepy airport of Kathmandu to the packed streets of Calcutta, a mysterious mansion on the outskirts of town and an unforgettable chase-sequence through New Market.
From the author of the acclaimed Bengali novels ‘Kidnap’, ‘ShaaperJhaanpi’ and ‘Robibar’ comes a high-octane thriller that’s seriously addictive and keeps you hooked till the end.

Read an Excerpt:

At the first ring, Rustam picked up his mobile. It showed Bob’s number on the screen. He put the mobile to his ear and listened.
“I’m speaking from the loo…there’s news for you.”
“Why from the toilet?”
“Because no other place in the house is safe to talk to you,” Bob whispered back.
“When can we meet, then?”
“In the evening, after my duty’s over.”
“Didn’t you say you have day-night duties from now on?”
“They are letting me go for now in the evenings. But not at your place. It’s too risky.”
“Okay. So, where and when?”
“Hello, someone seems to be knocking at the door.”
The phone call ended with the roar of the flushing toilet.

At eight-thirty sharp, Rustam met Bob at Girish Park.
“Why didn’t you get in touch with me the last three days?”
Rustam looked sharply at Bob.
“There were problems.” Bob let out a thick cloud of cigarette smoke.
“It’s getting increasingly risky to come out and meet you like this.”
Though they stood in close proximity, their faces looked away in diametrically opposite directions. Unless you looked carefully, it was difficult to make out they were actually talking to each other.
Rustam idly looked at the snarling evening traffic, his hands on the railing of the park.
“So, what’s the news?”
On a bench inside the park, a young couple took advantage of the darkness to get cozy with each other. Bob simply couldn’t take his eyes off them.
“The red suitcase…” 
Bob’s voice trailed off as his eyes were riveted on the frenetic activities of the couple on the bench, their bodies wrapped under a shawl. 
“Yes, what about the red suitcase?”
Rustam cast one sharp glance at Bob, before looking away.
“I know where it is.”
Bob’s face got hidden in a cloud of smoke.
“Good.” Rustam’s voice sounded relieved. “In which room?”
“Upstairs, in boss’s bed room.”
“What makes you so sure?” Rustam’s eyes narrowed as he watched Bob’s face intently. For some inexplicable reason, he had never been able to fully trust Bob right from the beginning.
“One of the middle rooms on the first floor…was kept under lock and key all this while.”
Bob’s eyes were still very much on the couple on the bench.
“Bob…why aren’t you saying anything?”
Rustam’s voice sounded impatient.
The couple’s bodies were locked in a tight clinch under the shawl.
“I saw one of the sentries take the suitcase away from the middle room to boss’s bedroom.”
Rustam kept his eyes on the Central Avenue. A traffic jam was forming near the crossing, adjacent to the park. An eccentric man, with a wooden stick in his hand, was trying to regulate the traffic, in the process, making things much worse for everyone.
“Did you get to see where he hid it inside the bed room?”
Bob watched fascinated what the couple was doing on the bench, underneath the shawl.
“Niyogi shut the door after entering boss’s bed room.”
For a while both stood facing away from each other, in silence.
At long last, a cop appeared on the road and was seen trying to control the traffic. Inside the park, the couple was still locked in a tight embrace. Bob puffed at his cigarette and blew another cloud of smoke from his mouth. Rustam fanned with his hand irritably, trying hard to keep the smoke away from his face.
“Anything else?”
“Yes, there is.”
Bob looked directly at Rustam for the first time in the evening.
“I think Harry is going out of town very shortly.”
“Outside Calcutta, or outside India?”
“How should I know that?” Bob answered irritably.
“Somebody came from a travel agency with a sealed envelope. I signed and received it.”
The traffic at the crossing had eased by now. The couple on the bench sat still, exhausted.
Rustam noticed Bob smiling at them. 
“What are you smiling at?”
 Bob took one last puff from the cigarette, flicked the butt end casually towards the footpath and walked away. After a while Rustam came and sat at the bench in the park.   The couple got up from the bench and walked away, each in a different direction. Rustam watched them leave, took out the mobile from his pocket and started speaking into it in a low voice.

About the Author:
In so far as the pursuit of any true vocation is a life in itself, Barun Chanda – advertising guru, actor and writer, may be said to have had three. Born in Dhaka, he did his Masters in English at Jadavpur University. Following a brief stint as a lecturer in English, he embarked upon a career in the creative department of advertising that spanned more than 30 years, won him numerous awards and culminated in his tenure as Creative Director at Clarion McCann.
Acting occupies the second of his three worlds. In 1971, he scorched the big screen as a high-flying executive, playing the protagonist in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Seemabaddha’, and winning a special President of India Award for his performance. After a hiatus that lasted over two decades, he returned to the screen during the 90’s, and has since then acted in numerous TV series and more than 35 movies. Tackling Bollywood and Tollywood roles with equal aplomb, he has distinguished himself in films such as Lootera, Roy, Chotushkone, Aborto, MIshorRohoshyo, Nayanchampa-r Dinraatri , Bela Sheshe and Jogajog. Chorabaali, where where once again he plays the protagonist, is his latest venture.
Barun’s third passion is writing. A regular film reviewer and contributor of articles to major dailies, in the last eight years he has published four highly acclaimed and successful novels in Bengali. His work has played a major role in establishing the adult thriller genre in Bengali literature.
Coke is his first novel in English.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Heart is beating ……. It keeps on beating………..

Tring…….. Tring…….. Tring…….

Rubbing my eyes I got up. Putting on my specs I looked at the mantelpiece and was alarmed to see that it was just 3 in the morning.  Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I ran to the living room. But before I could reach for the receiver the ring stopped. 

Dhak…… Dhak…. Dhak….. 

I could clearly hear my heart beat. Tension building up I waited for the caller to call again. Just when the wait seemed unbearable the telephone rang. Snatching the receiver from the cradle I put it close to my ears.  I felt my chest tighten, throat constrict and tears brim over only to roll down my cheeks. The world around me started to fade away. Keeping the receiver down I let my body fall wearily on the sofa.  Slowly but steadily I started sliding down memory lane. Her smiling face bringing more tears and before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably for that wonderful person who had just bid us farewell- my adorable aunt, my dad’s sister a truly unforgettable person. An active person, ever on her toes Sreedevi Aunt had as I learnt later, succumbed to a massive heart attack. That’s when I realized that the heart can play havoc at any age, with any gender, anytime.  One need not be 60+ to suffer a heart attack; it can also strike at 20 or 30. 

Post mourning, I started looking up articles on the heart and various ailments associated with it. What amazed me was that even the healthy, active ones could fall easy prey to it. ‘Why?’ ‘How?’ were the questions that cropped up in my mind. That was when  my husband and myself decided to go in for a health check-up to make sure that all was well not only with our heart but our other organs too. Since then we have been going in for regular check-ups but yes these last two years we’ve some-how given it a miss. It’s only when our daughter enquired about it recently, that we realized that we’ve once again started becoming lax on the health front.  So we decided we’d take a few positive steps to keep ourselves fit and fine. After all with a grandchild on the way we both need to make ourselves ready to give him/ her (whoever it is) a tough time. We need to be young in both body and soul to enjoy the gift that’s due in a few months from now. We decided to:

1. Go in for our Annual Health Checkup immediately. After all we need to be aware of what our body can withstand and what it cannot, what needs to be rectified or strengthened and why.

2. Eat for a healthy heart i.e.  keep a watch on what we eat. Now how do we identify what is healthy and what is not. For this I did an intensive search on the net and elsewhere, spoke to friends and family and this is what I found -

Omega -3 fatty acids: High levels of blood fat i.e. triglycerides and high blood pressure put one at high risk of heart diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are found to lower elevated triglyceride levels and high blood pressure to a certain extent. While EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA ( docosahexaenoic)  are primarily found in certain types of fish and sea food  like salmon , sardines, anchovies, oysters, mussels, etc.,  ALA ( Alpha- linolenic acid) is found in plant sources i.e. certain nuts like walnuts and seeds such as flaxseed and rapeseed .  It is present in chocolates too.

Phytosterols (Plant sterols and stanols): Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.  They are endowed with powerful cholesterol- lowering properties and can be found in some cooking oils, milk and yoghurt too.  Intake of a handful of slivered almonds daily helps keep ‘bad’ cholesterol at bay. They are rich in plant sterols, fiber and heart-healthy fats. 

Lycopene: This is a hydrocarbon carotenoid that is found in tomatoes, apricot, watermelons, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, etc.  Lycopene works with other vitamins and minerals to prevent diseases.  Studies suggest that consumption of lycopene rich food leads to decreased levels of oxidized LDL. It may be noted that when LDL becomes ‘oxidized’ it leads to cholesterol accumulation in the arteries especially the coronary arteries, in the form of plaque. This plaque can rupture and be the cause of a heart attack. Apart from lowering oxidized LDL levels, lycopene enriched foods especially tomatoes reduce body inflammation, hypertension and lower the risk of a stroke. 

Pectin: Pectin is a naturally occurring soluble gelatinous polysaccharide. It is found in ripe fruits like apples, guava, plums, gooseberry, oranges and other citrus fruits. Pectin helps fight bad cholesterol.

Potassium:  Potassium rich foods lower the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease. Vegetables especially green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, beet greens, beans, yoghurt, clams, carrot and orange juice, fish, soya beans, bananas, milk, etc. are a rich source of potassium. 

Yoghurt also contains probiotics, natural bacteria that aid in digestion but also lead to healthy gum. And as we all know gum diseases elevate the risk of heart disease.
Flavanols : These are active antioxidants that fight free radicals and neutralize inflammation. They also influence our vascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving the flow of blood to both the brain and the heart, ensuring that blood platelets are less sticky and able to clot.  Chocolates, cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, etc. are rich in flavanols. 

Finally after my extensive research, hubby and I decided to cut down on chicken, eggs, fried foods, unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt and instead concentrate on tucking our tummy with fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolates and fiber rich grains and cereals. Fish being my favorite  and one that’s healthy for the heart I’m planning to have it more often maybe a couple of times a week instead of the once a week regime that I generally follow at present. 

3. Make necessary changes to our lifestyle and ensure that we do not stick to our chair for long periods together i.e. ensure that we don’t stay glued to our laptop or TV set for hours together.  Our way of not only keeping the heart healthy but also keeping diabetes at bay.
4. “Exercise relieves stress. Nothing relieves exercise.” ( Takayuki  Ikkaku)

Exercise regularly. My husband is way ahead of me in this matter. In fact he’s been always pestering me to take up yoga and other breathing exercises.  But somehow I’ve been giving him a deaf ear in the matter. However now with age catching up I’ve realized it’s best to heed to him. 

5. It’s quite a while since I’ve stopped walking for the sake of walking. I love walking but then displacement on account of frequent travel and change of place has somehow disrupted my normal routine of late. I know it’s not an excuse. I have to do something about that. So I’ve decided to get my treadmill that’s been lying neglected in a corner since the last couple of months, overhauled and resume my daily walk on it immediately. Hubby and I have also decided to resume our evening walk  once the monsoon recedes. I’ve also decided to get my gang of two i.e. my friends, to accompany us on these evening walks that’s been put off since the past five months on account of the summer and monsoon showers.  With that I’m sure I’ll be able to burn up the extra calories if any, that I consume as well as keep my cholesterol level within permissible limits.

6. Do my bit to keep my surroundings clean, healthy and pollution-free. Studies indicate that environment too plays a major role in cardio vascular diseases (CVD) and majority of CVDs are associated to air pollution and chemical exposure.  The best we can do is stay away from further aggravating the situation as well as create awareness among the people we constantly come into contact with. 

7. Last but not the least, be happy and stress-free. It’s always been our policy to share our worries and this we believe is the greatest stress-buster one that has helped us tide over difficult times and situations. After all ‘sharing is caring’ and here we share and care for each other’s heart.  


“I am joining the Saffolalife #ProtectHerHeart initiative and pledging my support to better heart health in Association with BlogAdda.” 


Do let me know you've been by putting your views on the topic in the comment box below.