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16 August 2015

The Curse of Surya by Dev Prasad – A Review

Final_The Curse of Surya_RHI.indd A reporter, an Oxford professor of Archeology, an old man and the underworld – all in search of one elusive stone, the Shyamantaka. The story is woven around Sangeeta Rao, an Indian working for a Singapore based TV Channel and Allan Davies an Oxford based professor meeting by chance at the monument of Love, the Taj Mahal ending up being branded as terrorists after they are found seated next to a real terrorist who kills the main speaker at a conference held at Krishna Janmasthan, Mathura. Turn of events leads them on a wild goose chase across the country with the SP of the area, Nisha following them close on their tail. Events and cryptograms unfold one after the other leading to several connected more events. What happens to the trio, Sangeeta, Allan and Anton the old man who claims to be on a search for the Shyamantaka for the Govt. of India is the crux of the story. Read on to find more.
Tenzing, an undercover Tibet Liberation Front member, employed with a Singapore based TV Channel, is found murdered under mysterious circumstances. Sangeeta and Susan, both colleagues of Tenzing are off on a vacation the next morning from Singapore when an early morning call from her boss sends Sangeeta flying to India to cover an event of International importance involving the Prime Minister of India and President of Singapore meeting at the Taj Mahal in Agra. At the other end of the globe, a flirty Allan Davies is called by his boss and packed of for an assignment to India with a file that has all the details of the assignment as well as a new identity, Professor of Archeology at Oxford, reason being the Religious conference planned at Mathura where the location of Shyamantyaka is poised to be revealed.
Shyamantaka, a stone given by the Sun God to Satrajit in the Dwapar Yug has remained hidden for centuries at a stretch. None had been able to identify the location of the stone until date when a Hindu Swamy claims he has located it and plans to reveal the details to the world. The stone has the potential to tilt the powers of the world in favor of the possessor. Naturally, this evokes interest from media, local public and the international underworld alike. Everyone with just one wish. The need to own the stone.
At the conference where the Swamy was supposed to reveal the location, he is assassinated by a terrorist. Sangeeta and Allan who had no connection to him suddenly seem to be catapulted to the center of attention for only one fault. Being seated next to the terrorist and not raising an alarm about it. A wild goose chase takes them into the hidden chambers of the Krishna Janmasthan temple where they discover an underground library aging back to Kansa’s time. They also meet Anton over there who claims to be appointed by the GOI to locate the stone for them. They have the SP of the area, Nisha tailing them and catching up on them fast. Thinking on their feet, they locate a cryptograph which supposedly would lead them to Shyamantaka and stage a quick exit under the nose of Nisha. A disappointed and wounded (sic) Nisha decides to chase them to the end of the world to retrieve them and bring them to justice.
With a few quick contacts from Anton, the trio manage a cross country ride to Rajkot in a chartered plane where they are intercepted by Nisha’s contact. He tags the luggage with a GPS tracker so that Nisha can monitor their movements. In the meantime, Anton manages to divide Allan and Sangeeta. The trio discover a way to reach the stone in an old and dilapidated well in Dwarka. Anton tricks the couple and flees with the stone only to pay for it with his life. A disappointed and trapped under the well Sangeeta and Allan soon realize their folly that not only had they been tricked by Anton, but also that he never had the original stone. The two manage to get out of the well by sheer wit and presence of mind to meet a guide who takes them to the real Dwarkadhish Temple where they get another cryptogram to solve.
Solving one after another cryptograms and in the process falling in love, the couple explore the depths of the sea bringing alive the palace of Dwarka in its pristine glory and also to retell the story, history and importance of Shyamantaka. Does the couple succeed in retrieving the real stone? Do they manage to escape the clutches of Nisha and reach their countries safely? Does Nisha manage to nail down the real culprit? All this and more lies in wait for you to read and find out in the book, “The Curse of Surya” by Dev Prasad.
Dev Prasad is a senior IT Professional having a varied experience across several national and multinational organizations. He has written quite a few books and has won awards and recognition for many.

10 August 2015

Big Basket Launches Coffee on Demand, Calls it fresho

Big Basket recently launched a new brand of on demand DSC_2424coffee service called ‘fresho’. The service is aimed towards providing the best, most authentic and the freshest coffee that a customer can get. The market is crowded with a multitude of coffee brands but none of these are as fresh as being ground on the day the product is delivered. Being an ‘on-demand’ service, the coffee is ground only after the customer places the order. This not only ensures that the coffee is closer to being authentic in taste but also reinforces the age old practice of south India where traditionally the coffee was bought from stores that stocked freshly roasted beans would be ground only when the customer asked for it at the store.

To quote Big Basket, “Fresho Coffee is pure filter coffee ground to order. The coffee beans will be ground against order to maintain freshness. The aroma of freshly ground coffee is so invigorating that you always crave for more. The coffee is 100% pure coffee with no added chicory. It’s a blend of Arabica (35 years old) and Robusta (75-80 years old).The coffee comes from a high elevation bean which is bigger and has greater intrinsic value and is produced at the foothills of Baba Budangiri hills in Chikmaglur. We have launched 5 exciting flavors -
1-Dark Nectar - A delicately processed coffee with a naturally sweet flavor
2-Smooth Caramel - A unique coffee blend with a deep caramelized flavor
3-Exotica - A dark roasted, heavy bodied, great tasting coffee
4-Morning Dew - A beautiful blend with a touch of sweetness
5-Noir Crème - The rich, deep taste of mildly bitter coffee

We were privy to the taste of the coffee when it was launched. A blind tasting was performed to find out who loved which coffee. As a coffee connoisseur, we did blind tasting of each coffee, both with and without sugar. Each coffee was as different as each of us bloggers. None of us seemed to like the same coffee. Truely, each coffee was as different and fresh as all of us. fresho is truely fresh and sticks to its commitment of delivering fresh and pure coffee with no added chicory which is there in most of the coffees available today commercially in varying quantities. The coffee itself is competitively priced and ranges from Rs. 46 - Rs.99 with the price averaging out at Rs. 75 per 100 gm.

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