Book Review: Panorama (Short Stories) by Shilpi Chaklanobis

Reading books is a habit that many would love to inculcate. I know a lot of people who have wanted to start reading as a hobby either to develop the language, speed, vocabulary or simply out of plain interest.
But how does one know where to start? What books to read? Which books to avoid? That is why I started this ‘Book Review’ column to simplify the process and perhaps ease the confusion a bit.
I just read ‘Panorama – A Collection of Short Stories’ by Shilpi Chaklanobis. Here is what I thought.

Book Cover:

The moment I ripped open the packaging, the gleaming image of a child and man’s best friend greeted me charmingly. I loved the whole feeling of the cover, the font of the title as well as the style of the author’s name. Overall, very catchy and definitely something I would pick off a shelf just by first look. However, I wasn’t able to link the cover to the title of the book.
Cover Rating – 4/5

Title Justification:

I personally loved the title and thought it encompassed the essence of the book perfectly. ‘Panorama’ basically means to encompass or to view something from a wider perspective. The conglomeration of these stories brings together a picturesque view of life through the author’s eyes. I found it deep, meaningful and quite attractive.

Title Rating – 4.5/5

Plot

Now, coming to the main part of the book. The stories. I will give a brief outlook at each of the fifteen stories in this book and what I felt stood out the most. Please note that these stories are in order or appearance within the book and are not in order of my preference.

  1. The Wok: The book opens with a simple, yet touching story depicting the lives of a hard-working mother and a dynamic daughter. I loved the ending of this story.
  2. Peanut: This story carries a whiff of an autobiographic feel to it. It’s depicted from a first person narrative by a character that is not the main part of the story. To me, this felt like one of the weaker links of the book but nonetheless, still an interesting read.
  3. The Thirst: Another bang of a story with an excellent climax. The best part about this story was the title. It means so many different things encompassed into just one word.
  4. Selective Secularism: This story was very deep. I loved the scenario and the thought behind this plot. Its social angle was what really drove me in to the core of it.
  5. Bribe: For some reason, I felt myself being carried away with this one. It is an extremely simple story depicting marriage from an experienced viewpoint. I loved this story and it certainly was an interesting read.
  6. Forever: One of my favourites from the book, this story was depicted with vivid details and a tremendous ending. I found myself feeling drawn to the characters.
  7. The Wait: With an excellent twist that was totally unexpected, I found myself smiling once I read the way this story was woven. Impressive word play.
  8. Second Tsunami: Everyone can learn something from this story. I don’t know how the author felt when writing it but I definitely felt a tug in my heart as each word pierced into my skin. Another one of my favourites.
  9. The Example: Another autobiographic story. Maybe this genre is not for me or perhaps the others were far too vibrant – but I found this to be another weak link in the book.
  10. The Meeting: There was an element of relativity in this story that really connected to me. It portrays a situation that happens to probably anyone in any form. It is about friendship and the lack thereof as time carries us away.
  11. Jackpot: A very beautiful story. There is such depth of human emotion in it that it is outstanding. One of the best stories in the book.
  12. Destiny: I got chills when I read this story. Just one word. Amazing.
  13. The Untimely Death: A little slow paced and probably the longest story in the book, this one takes a small and simple situation that is wonderfully woven into a tale.
  14. Before it’s too Late: Time runs out of our hands and enjoyment is replaced by responsibilities. This story portrays the side of life that we all forget to live because we are too trapped by our own deadlines.
  15. The Sealed Wish: I felt as though there couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to this book than to save the best for last. I personally loved this story so much that I read it twice. An amazing read.

Overall Impression:

I generally don’t prefer reading short stories because I am worried about the ups and downs that they may contain. But I am glad I chose this one because there are definitely many more pros than cons with ‘Panorama’. The author is very imaginative while being realistic and knows how to transform normal situations into wonderful tales. Every story had an element to it that I felt I could relate to in my own life. It is such a simple book filled with ordinary situations and relate-worthy characters.

However, if I had to give the author one suggestion, I would definitely ask her to consider creating more lasting impressions with more dialogues, powerful sentence constructions and heartfelt one liners that will stick with the reader for a long, long time.

Final Rating: 4/5
Verdict: Worth every penny!

 

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Restaurant Review: Hitec Nanking (Madhapur, Hyderabad)

I love food. As simple as that.

It is a wonderful feeling I relish – trying new restaurants, experimenting with different delicacies and savoring every bite I take. While it is true that my appetite is quite poor, that doesn’t dismiss the fact that I do enjoy a meal out every once in a week or so.

So, when I was driving around Madhapur on a lazy Sunday evening with my family, I saw a restaurant perched high up on the top floor of a building that caught my fancy. Hitech Nanking. In a split second decision, we decided to check this place out and see what it had in store. I have to add here that – luckily, they have parking so I was tremendously relieved.

Let me take a shot at reviewing this restaurant for what I thought about it. I have three major parameters:

  1. Ambience
  2. Food
  3. Service

Ambience:

The moment I stepped into the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised by the clean decor and the simple furniture. There was a rich cultural feeling to it that can’t be put into words.

 

 

 

 

 

With differently sized and coloured chinaware decorating the walls in a quirky, fancy manner – the glass ceilings and bright chandeliers complimenting the ambience, it felt quite comforting to be inside. That being said, there wasn’t a lavish or extravagant display of decor – which was a good thing. I found the interiors quite apt for this cozy restaurant.

I give the ambience 4/5.

Food:

We decided to go all out and ordered a full three course meal, starting with the appetizers and drinks of course. We ordered soft drinks and lemonade to go with out ‘Fried Wontons’ and ‘Chicken Pakodas’.

The wontons were perfect – crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The hot and sour sauce accompanying the dish complimented it wonderfully. The pakodas are worth their place in the ‘specials’ list. They were piping hot, crisp and melted in our mouths.

Just as we were savoring the starters, our main course was served. ‘Vegetable Soft Noodles’, ‘Veg Fried Rice’ and ‘Veg in Hot Garlic Sauce’. The noodles had a tinge of that authentic burnt flavour that was mouth-watering. The vegetables were perfectly stir fried. The rice was aptly seasoned and had a special richness to it. As for the assorted vegetables in the mildly spicy gravy – it went very well with our other dishes and added a balance to our palate.

        

 

Now that we were stuffed with our meal and emptied our drinks till the last sip, we wanted to call it a night. But the staff seemed to be able to tempt us into getting dessert. Who can say no to ice cream? I know I can’t. And so we said yes. It was like the perfect proposal – because the dessert was just as yummy as everything else. Crispy fried noodles dipped in honey, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped off with a mild hint of strawberry sauce – you can find it in the specials list as ‘Darsaan tossed with ice cream’ if you feel your mouth watering right now.


One word.
Heavenly.
The crispness of the noodles on your tongue as the soft chill of the ice cream creates a burst of flavour in your mouth is utter bliss. But because we were a little greedy, we also shared a chocolate ice cream which was rich in both texture and flavour.

I give the food 4.5/5.

Service:

Lighting fast. That’s the one term I can use. It probably was the most efficient and quick service I have ever experienced in any restaurant. We had our starters within 10 minutes of placing our order. The main course quickly followed. Dessert was perfectly on time. Our water glasses were always full. Anything we needed was given to us without having to ask. I found it quite thrilling to receive such fantastic service after so many years of eating out.

I give the service 5/5.

Overall:

It was a genuinely great experience. We surely didn’t regret it even one bit. I recommend this to anyone who has a flavor for Chinese cuisine and / or loves Non-Vegetarian food because these guys know what they are doing.

Final rating: 4.5/5
Verdict: Worth tasting

Hitec Nanking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato