Glamour, Delhi, Afghanistan on book shelf

New Delhi: The books this weekend are fun and easy to read.

1. ‘Opening Night’; Written by Diksha Basu; Published by Harper-Collins India; Priced at Rs.250

This is the story of Naiya Kapur, a Princeton University graduate who comes to Mumbai to chase the big Indian dream - Bollywood. Naiya isn`t searching for her soulmate, or hoping to find her roots in the India her parents once knew; she is searching for fame, fortune and fun in the new India. She navigates Mumbai and Bollywood where identities are fluid and murky - and lines are meant to be crossed.

In the middle of shuttling between auditions and parties, Naiya enters into a potentially `happily ever after` relationship - that turns out to be complicated - with a neurotic ex-model-turned-film producer. As she battles her demons and tries to deal with her increasingly tangled life, the stage is set for high drama, and her Opening Night.

2. ‘Glittering Decades: New Delhi in Love & War’; Written by Nayantara Pothen; Published by Penguin India; Priced at Rs.499

New Delhi was purpose-built to trumpet the supremacy of the British Raj and inaugurated in 1931. Instead it came to represent a fading imperial dream in the two decades that followed. In the heyday of the British Raj, strict social and racial hierarchies governed the social life of the city`s ruling elites. The frivolity of New Delhi`s high society was kept in check by a faithful adherence to etiquette and protocol in everyday life.

The political shifts associated with India`s journey to self-government echoed in the social codes of conduct adopted by the Indian elites of New Delhi, and undermining the Raj`s pomp became a legitimate means of challenging its authority. Closely examining the role of social ritual, interaction and behaviour in the shaping of the city and its elite groups, "Glittering Decades..." tells the story of New Delhi and its privileged inhabitants between 1931 and 1952.

3. ‘How to Love Your Body’ (And Have the Body You Love); Written by Yana Gupta; Published by Penguin India; Priced at Rs.199

For 16 years, model and actress Yana Gupta struggled with her body and the way she felt about it. She tried every diet, worked out constantly - but the fears remained. In "How to Love Your Body...", the model writes about how she got the balance back in her life and learnt to love herself.

Using her own experiences, she gives easy to follow eating advice and the real lowdown on food. She offers tips to understand nutrition labels, the great dabba trick and the best snack to eat when you get a late-night hunger attack. The model finally teaches the greatest lesson of all - how you can learn to love and accept your body.

4. ‘The Extras’; Written by Kiran Nagarkar; Published by Harper Collins-India; Priced at Rs.499

Ravan and Eddie are back - bigger and better. They have been mortal enemies since birth because of a bizarre family feud. But now Ravan and Eddie`s lives converge as they share an obsession: having grown up in Bombay (Mumbai), the city of dancing movie stars and glitzy glamour, both dream of strutting down the road to superstardom. But can Ravan (a lowly taxi driver) and Eddie (a bouncer-cum-bartender) rise from their dusty chawls to the glittering heights of international fame?

Their love lives are as fraught as their careers. Pieta, Eddie`s sister and the object of Ravan`s adoration, is oblivious to his existence - until he saves her life. Eddie, secure in his love for the Anglo-Indian Belle, must overcome opposition from their families. Peopled by a cast of soul-searching drunks, some of the most memorable women and Ravan`s nemesis, Three Point One, "The Extras" is much more than a book about Bollywood or Bombay.

5. ‘Thunder Over Kandahar’; Written by Sharon E. McKay; Published by Om Books International; Priced at Rs.195

Best friends, Tamanna and Yasmine, cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village. But their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burn down the school and threaten the teacher and students. As Tamanna is faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage to an older man, and the Taliban target Yasmine`s Western-educated family, the girls realise they must flee.

Travelling through perilous mountain passes, the two unaccompanied teen-agers find themselves in mortal danger as they confront land mines, a suicide bomber and roving bands of the Taliban. But when the two girls are separated, they are left without the one thing that has helped them survive - each other. The award-winning author spent time in Afghanistan in 2009, researching this novel.



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