Friday, 26 October 2018

Book Review #112 : God of The Sullied



"God of the Sullied" is one of the most intriguing works of fiction that I have come across recently. It will take you down a rollercoaster ride as the pages reveal the mystery enhanced by Gaurav Sharma's engaging writing style. There are a lot of plots and twists along with fantastic characters in this book. 

The storyline is gripping. This book gives you a taste of Hindu medieval timeline. An un-put-down-able fiction, "God of the Sullied" is a pacy read for all mythology buffs!

"God of the sullied" is the first book in which Eklavya is the protagonist. Eklavya was the boy who severed his right hand thumb and gave it to Dronacharya as his Gurudakshina. Apart from this, we hardly know anything about him. In this book, author Gaurav Sharma has re-imagined and executed everything. Reimagining and writing about a mythological character is not an easy work. But the ease with which the author has reimagined everything is laudable.

Use of easy and lucid language makes it enjoyable to read. The narration is also good. Editing of the book is tight and absolutely perfect. This book has made my mind visualize every description made by the author. The book is well researched & takes you to the heights of excitement.

VERDICT : This book is truly a captivating novel with each page and character building up interest in the book. Will surely recommend!

TIP: Preferably try finishing the book in one go.

Keep writing, Gaurav Sharma. Kudos to you. Looking forward to reading you more.

Rating - 4.5/5 

Disclaimer: I received the book from the author asking me to review this book. I read the blurb, which seemed intriguing, and I accepted his offer, in exchange of an honest review.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Book Review #111 : Dystopia

Title: Dystopia
Author: Manoj V Jain
Publisher: The Write Place
Genre: Fiction 
Pages: 146



Manoj V Jain’s Dystopia is the story of five school friends who reconnect after decades and attempt to resolve why a dear friend killed herself at eighteen. 

The book is set in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai and is centred on a single night at one of the friends’ house. Regular flashbacks take you to different points in time giving the narrative some perspective.

Jain has divided the story into two parts- Shambala, the idealistic and dreamy world of adolescence and Dystopia, the dark and angst ridden reality. As with any murder plot, the end is a shocker and takes you by surprise. The reason for Anandita’s death is the final piece of the puzzle, but yet the story somehow feels unsatisfying. 

Dystopia is nothing but a reflection of what we as adults might have gone through as kids, how our life shapes depending upon how over protective our parents were or careless with our up bringing; how we behaved with others as we grew up and vice versa. 

Most of us are the results of our childhood. Dystopia is a good read for those grappling with childhood pains, growing up, teenage angst, role identities and parenting but one should be careful that the book does not end up being a trigger to past problems.

The writing is good but fails to interest because of the incessant transition from reality to flashback. A topic gets initiated and even before its culmination, it is monotonously interrupted by the spirit of dystopia. The scenes hence become over-stretched and uninteresting.

‘Dystopia ’once again brings to the fore Author Manoj V Jain’s skill at making a mundane topic truly interesting and engaging. I admire how skilfully the author has his reader engaged in the topic.

If you are a parent, this might turn on an internal debate with your subconscious mind for the good or the bad but beware, that the message this novella wants to spread, must be taken seriously. ‘Dystopia’ is an eye-opener. Thought provoking, and one that can leave adults especially those that force their will on their children, feeling guilty, ‘Dystopia’ reveals the damage over protectiveness can have on the young mind. This in turn translates into the child becoming an introvert or hesitating from revealing secrets that are meant only for parents’ ears. 

VERDICT: The book one of the best on parenting, is a must read for all parents especially those with young kids.

Rating -4/5

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Book Review #110 : Perfect Love – 5.5 Ways To A Lasting Relationship



I have gone through Shubha’s Ramayana series books as well. And all books are amazing with great life lessons. In this book, the author concludes the life lessons amazingly and as readers, we are glued till the end!

There are 6 stories from the shastras namely ‘The Wheel of Fortune’, ‘The Golden Letter’, ‘A Silent Voice’, ‘The Other Before Oneself’, ‘The Woman Who Chose’ and ‘A Condition About Conditions’, but Shubha has presented them in a very practical and simple way. I was completely surprised by the depth of love, in all the stories.

Forgiveness is key is the main theme of ‘The Wheel of Fortune’ which narrates the story of Nala and Damayanti. Tolerate first and forgive next is the first key to make a relationship last for a lifetime.

Rukmini expresses her love to Krishna in ‘The Golden Letter’ as she explores that expressing love is crucial in a relationship. Appreciative expressions of love are the second key to make a relationship last for a lifetime.

Trust is foundation of all relationships. In ‘A Silent Voice’, Shakuntala first starts learning to trust herself, her inner voice and then later on trusting Dushyanta, her lover and husband. Trust in others begins by trusting oneself first, inner voice second and life itself, third. Trust is the important key to make a relationship strong.

In ‘The Other Before Oneself’, the author narrates the love story of Udayana and Vasavadatta as well as Lohajanga and Rupinika who build their relationships based on quality time spent in each other’s company. Spending quality and quantity time is the fourth key to make a relationship last for a lifetime.

Savitri’s determination to stay with Satyavan is retold in the story ‘The Woman Who Chose’. The determination to stay together actually increases the overall levels of happiness and contentment in a human being. Savitri was resolute not to let go of the relationship even in the face of death itself.

As the name suggests ‘A Condition About Conditions’ is about the conditions that have positive or negative impact on the relationships. A positive condition is the last half-key to make a relationship last for a lifetime. The stories of Shantanu’s relationship with Ganga and Satyavati and Pururava’s love for Urvashi talk about how negative conditions complicate relationships from the beginning and strangulate them in the end. Whereas Draupadi’s marriage with the five Pandavas lasted a lifetime.

Life lessons of love, anger, lust, intelligence, etc all emotions are taken through and is quite implementable in day to day life. This is a genuine book with genuine content. 

Each quote and lesson given in the book touches the heart, with narration that keeps you hooked. These are my favourite quotes from the book-

"The commitment to be grateful in a relationship is the commitment that keeps a relationship”

“When you look down upon someone, they appear ugly. When you look up at someone, they appear beautiful. But when you look straight at someone, they appear the way they are.”

“Filthy roads are better than filthy minds; at least their filth is visible.”

"Small drops of water when collected fill up a water tank. Similarly, when efforts are made to fulfil small desires, it fills up the love tank"

"Just as the smile of the crescent moon against the backdrop of utter darkness is most beautiful, the smile on the face of a person who is surrounded by unlimited troubles is most attractive.”

I've received much deeper and broader understanding on the way how relationships should be dealt with. Here in this book, it's not just about two people in love per se, but how we can improve every relation in general.

Theory with practical lessons plus implementation of things and guidance by author himself. It is a guide to having fulfilling relationships and transforming the way we look at them, that will be useful for generations to come.  

Perfect Love – 5.5 Ways to A Lasting Relationship is a treasure trove of scriptural wisdom for the modern age. I appreciate the efforts taken by the author in studying, writing and presenting the book in such a beautiful way! For all those who wish to improve their relationship with their partner it is must read book! :) Highly recommended.

Rating - 5/5

Author : Shubha Vilas is a TEDx speaker, lifestyle coach, storyteller and author. He has delivered more than 4000 lectures on application of scriptural wisdom in day-to-day life. Curious to know more about him, then visit his website – www.shubhavilas.com.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Loving The Right Person




Love is a big thing.  It is equal parts exciting, rewarding, and scary. But, anyone who’s experienced it knows it’s the best feeling ever.

Loving the right person can bring about so many changes in you and your life.
1. THEY’RE THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY
No matter how good or bad the day is going, that someone has a way of making it better. There’s something quite magical about our loved one in that their mere presence makes us feel more at peace.  
2. You heal
When you're loved the way you want to be loved, all your baggage starts to make sense and that's when you start letting go of everything negative you've been holding on to. That's because when you find the right person, you'll be accepted in your truest sense, gaining back that confidence you lost somewhere along the way.

3. YOU WILL LOVE YOURSELF A LOT MORE THAN YOU DID

Stronger relationship teaches us the value of self worth. That's because the person you're with will make you realise how important you are as an individual, not just to them, but as a whole. You will feel valued and free. The love will feel like it lifts you up, helping you to experience more out of life.

4. THEIR PAIN IS YOURS
That’s right: the whole thing about owning your pain goes out the window the moment you fall in love. We can’t honestly hold onto something if someone else refuses to let go. Love and pain are inseparable. And it’s the most beautiful (albeit, heart-wrenching) type of pain, too.
5. YOU’RE PROTECTIVE
We innately protect the people we care for. You feel safe with them, too.
6. YOU THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE/ LONG TERM GOALS
A lot of consideration is given to the days ahead. Maybe it’s having a lovely home, starting a family, or bettering yourself when the time comes to settle down.
7. YOU WANT TO BE A BETTER PERSON
This is the life-changing power of love.
8. YOU’RE BEST FRIENDS
When you’re in love with the right person, it feels a lot like returning to the simpler days of life. You might be dealing with the pressures of work, school, and conflicting responsibilities. But you genuinely enjoy each other’s company, you tell each other everything, and you have the unshakable knowledge that if something goes wrong for one of you, the two of you will face it together. You’re at each other’s side through laughter and tears, and you take comfort from each other. You’re not afraid to be silly, and you’re not afraid to be weak. You like each other’s quirks, and there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for each other.
People fall in love for all sorts of reasons. Deep levels of trust take time to develop, but with the right person it all finds a perfect balance.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Book Review #109 : Invisible Ties

Author: Nadya A.R.
Title: Invisible Ties
Year of publication: 2017
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Number of pages: 265



This is a story of a girl finding herself, accepting herself and loving herself. This is a story of self-love and self-respect. 

Nadya A.R.’s Invisible Ties traces the journey of Noor Kamal as she goes from being a meek, overprotected girl growing up in Pakistan to becoming a self-realised woman, married and on equal terms with her husband in Singapore.

Nadya A.R. certainly deserves credit for the research and details presented in the novel. At first, Invisible Ties comes across as a fairly ordinary story but that’s only until the plot takes off. Or maybe the story is ordinary but has been told in such a manner that it makes for an extraordinary read.

The book is about Noor and her journey across multiple cultures. Ordinary situations sometimes transform seemingly average people into unlikely heroes and it is only in taking control of our lives that we discover ourselves.

Invisible Ties is a story about love, loss, relationships that evolve and bonds that are tested. The interplay of emotions and relationships is something that stands out in this book. The characters emotions are explored in detail, their trials and tribulations and compromises make for a fascinating read. Perhaps, its good that this story has been kept ordinary and hasn’t resorted to unnecessary grandeur. The simplicity is what makes it unique. The different stages of Noor's life have been beautifully encapsulated.

From the first couple of chapters, I was left confused. Many things were happening, and I couldn’t decode them. It was all going over my head. However, once the story moved to the past that was set in Pakistan, things settled a bit, and I could make sense of what was happening. I think the part set in Pakistan is the strongest part of the story.

Some of the stuff is repetitive but if you can overlook it, it makes for an overall good read. The author has good command over language and holds the plot fairly well.

VERDICT : Overall, ‘Invisible Ties’ is a brilliant story that offers genuine moments of heartache and throws light on the harsh realities of life. It projects various themes and leaves the last page for the readers to contemplate.

Rating - 4.5/5 

P.S: I received a mail from a company named ‘Keemiya Creatives’, asking me to review this book. I read the blurb, which seemed intriguing, and I accepted their offer, in exchange of an honest review.


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Book Review #108 : Heart Quake




Author: Ishita Deshmukh
Publisher: Lifi Publications


Ishita penned this novel in her school days when she was asked to write with ‘love’ and ‘calamity’ as themes. With just a few months past the Bhuj earthquake, she chose her work to revolve around it.
Heart Quake revolves around the emotional crisis undergone by two lovers at the time of the Bhuj earthquake that shook Gujarat in 2001, which is a theme that is rarely taken up.

The book is an emotional journey for readers and the strong characters pull through the emotional ebb and flow perfectly. The female protagonist, Sonal, is a strong modern day woman. Tejas, a fatalist who is languid by nature, falls for his former lover, Sonal. The story traces their quest to find true love amidst crisis. They are the victims of the Bhuj earthquake and their defenselessness leads them to find a companion for life.

The story traces their love story, which had begun earlier. Plus, there is also Dilip’s factor, who is Sonal’s to-be fiancĂ©. Dilip who was her friend for all these years, when Tejas was not to be seen, was looking forward to being Sonal’s husband. And there are other bad causes at work, henchmen in terrible times too. The wrong agents at work are trying to make money from the entire situation.

The best part of this book are the characters. I would definitely say that it is a character-driven plot because they have been portrayed with such finesse and the author has managed to put all the nitty-gritty details. The book is definitely emotional. The supporting characters have also been portrayed well. Each character plays a vital role in shaping the story. Removal of one, will make the story look incomplete. The best people of this lot include Sonal’s mother, Chitra who calmly guides her daughter, into the next phase of her life. As does Dilip, who stays in love with Sonal through the whole story.

In the city of Bhuj, after the entire shock, amidst all the chaos and dread, there was also an overflow of emotions in the book - love, friendship, and a whole bunch of confusion, hope in the time of disaster, which is a ray of sunshine.

This is one of the books which leaves an impact on you with simple yet elegant way of explaining emotions that aren't easily understood by many. I would recommend this book to those who would like to read realistic life stories filled with highs and lows.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of book from the author in return for my honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 13 August 2018

Book Review #107 : 'He's Just Not That Into You'



Authors: Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo
ISBN: 978-0-689-87474-1

There are 16 chapters. Each of these chapters contains a brief description of the problem from Greg; two or three advice column-style questions from women, which Greg answers; a paragraph or two under the heading "It's so simple," which reinforces the chapter title; "Here's Why This One Is Hard," wherein Liz empathizes with reluctant readers and whines about how difficult her romantic life is; "This is What It Should Look Like," which discuss an ideal situation; and "Greg, I Get It," credited to a woman who finds the advice liberating.

Three items end each chapter: "If You Don't Believe Greg," which always has '20 out of 20' or '100% of polled men' giving advice that stands by the chapter's rule; a redundant "What You Should Have Learned in This Chapter" summary; and a trivial but occasionally giggle-worthy "Workbook" section.

You've probably told yourself all of this stuff before, but seeing it in writing really brings it home. I feel like this book has changed my entire perspective on dating.

If he is really that into you, you will know. There will be no doubting or questioning. This book just reaffirmed my inner voice that was telling me this kind of stuff but I always brushed aside in hopeless romantic style. But not anymore!

Move over diamonds, Greg Behrendt is a girl's new best friend. This book is hilarious and its humor will turn off any yearning for the man you thought was "into you" but not heard from in a while. (The book also gives women permission--and courage--to dump a man without feeling guilty.) The sad truth took a while to sink in that if a man really wants a particular woman, he'll move mountains to be with her.

It is not a bad message and maybe it is needed because as the authors say, there are too many women who put up with bad behavior from men. Women do need to believe that they deserve respectful behavior and should not fall for the many lies they are told. Indeed, women should not be so ready to lie to themselves about their relationships in the belief that they can't do any better. They need to respect themselves enough to insist on being loved well, because if they don't, then men won't respect them either. It is pretty crude psychology, but it makes sense.

He's Just Not That Into You is certainly not an academic treatise, so readers should take the advice at the level at which it is offered. The idea of the book is to get women to improve their relationships, not make final pronouncements about the nature of men and women.

This might be an uncomfortable book for both men and women to listen to, since it has high expectations of relationships. It has a light touch and is often funny. While the book often seems to have a very idealized view of romantic love and the perfectibility of relationships, relying on an old fashioned view of the differences between the sexes, it also fits in with one of the simplest and most obvious planks of feminism, that women should be treated with respect and kindness. We well know that it is often the people we get closest to that we hurt the most. 

He's Just Not That Into You will make its readers consider what their minimum requirements should be in the attitudes of a partner, and how much they should forgive the faults and mistakes of their lovers. So, surprisingly, it is a book that takes a strong moral stance. It is probably not a stance that its readers should adopt completely, but it is at least one worth keeping in mind. I sat with a highlighter pen to mark the important one-liners - the gems! ;)

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Dating & Relationship Insights From Mom!



It’s a delicate subject, but in my times of conflict, I have always turned to my mom for a second opinion as to whether I am is correct in my assumptions about a relationship or not. Without taking my side, she has always called spade a spade. Top 5 valuable lessons that I learned from her :

1. Respect him/her. Offer it while expecting it in return. Good relationships are forged more on how a couple handles the bad times than the good ones. Fight fair. Don’t get into name-calling, or fits of rage.

2. Never change for someone until you no longer recognize yourself. Falling deeply, madly in love should not get you “lost”. Change aspects of yourself only because YOU recognize where your flaws exist and YOU want to become a better person.

3. “Don’t marry for money. You’ll have nothing when it’s gone.” Prioritize love. The biggest lesson I learned from her is to prioritize love. Real love. To trust my heart and not force something to work just because it's a good story or he's 'perfect on paper.’

4. Never Settle. Since forever, my mom has taught me to never settle, to keep my standards as high as I want them, and that it's better to be alone than wishing you were alone!

5. Find the one who ‘supports’ you. 'Having it all' is impossible (or very, very difficult) without support. She attributes her success, work-life balance and happiness in large part to the fact that my dad has been an incredibly awesome, involved, and equal partner.

So, there you have it: Whether it's the little things or the big picture about life and love, a mother knows best.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Book Review #106 : Sonya




Blurb:
"Sonya is born and raised under strange circumstances and in a world of darkness. But she thoroughly enjoys this world and her gloomy ambience, until one fateful night. That night literally transforms her whole life and destroys everything she possesses, leaving her with nothing but complexes, phobias and depression. Despite that, Sonya wants to lead a normal life like everyone else. A life comprising of a normal family, a few good friends and a good romantic relationship, but will her past allow her to have one? Sonya grows up in various different situations and meets many good people who seem better than the monsters of her past. But are they? This story is a coming of age drama that follows Sonya and her life which is coloured by deception, dilemma, seduction, tears, abuse and bloodshed."

About the author:
Gautam Narayanan is from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. He has been writing for four years now and has written around 25 short stories before writing his first novel, Sonya. Gautam has also penned scripts for a few short films and loves movies, music and photography. He welcomes feedback and constructive criticism and is active on his twitter handle 2393writes.
  • Author : Gautam Narayanan
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Notion Press
  • Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION
  • ISBN: 9781643243320, 1643243322
  • Edition: 1, 2018
  • Pages: 434
Before reading the book I was terrified by its size. There are many books that are fat and have tons of pages which can make the reader doze off to sleep, as they pick it to read. But this book is a complete page turner. Each and every page justified its reason of being a part of this book. The storyline is very addictive and keeps you glued. The author has done justice to all the characters and has described each one perfectly to spin a perfect story.

The novel was completely the opposite of what I expected when I saw the cover page. I am actually surprised by the fact that a male writer can encapsulate the deepest emotions and feelings of a girl so well! The way the writer has scripted each and every human emotion and thought processes in the simplest way possible is just worth mentioning.

The girl i.e Sonya in the book, is not a perfect one, she is flawed, just like an ordinary girl. She does mistakes too. This is her story where she isn’t just turning into a woman but becoming a strong one - enough to face anything daringly that life puts her through.

The author has superbly expressed the feelings of a woman. The plot is likely to touch the heart of every woman. This book made me self reflect. I felt like I learnt more about myself. Every incident is relatable. Being a girl and facing certain issues in my life, this book made me even more stronger. Gautam Narayanan has penned a masterpiece which changed me as a person and made me questions many beliefs.

This is one of the books which leaves an impact on you. with simple yet elegant way of explaining emotions that aren't easily understood by many. This novel made me cry, made me rediscover myself and inspired me. A must read for all book lovers. Congratulations to Gautam for his hard work of 3 years! <yes, it took 3 years for him to finish this fat book>

Verdict ~ Gautam Narayanan is a gifted writer. I am sure he has thoroughly enjoyed conceptualizing this book and has lived the process of writing it. The cover of the book justifies the theme of the book. Highly recommended!

Rating – 5/5

Disclaimer: I received a copy of book from the author in return for my honest review.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Relationships : Casualty of Circumstances & Timing


I’ve realized that some relationships are transient but nonetheless beautiful and enriching for all that.
It’s been said that a relationship is a lot like a painting. I tend to disagree. Well yes, a relationship does indeed begin much like a painting, with a blank canvas and infinity ahead. And relationships do need solid foundations, much like the background layers on a watercolor. But beyond that, how similar are the two, really? For any true work of art, the artist works his way across the canvas with a definite goal in mind. Relationships, on the other hand, aren’t entirely constrained by the participants. They sometimes flourish and more often flounder, occasionally doing both.
Circumstance and timing come together in a thousand different ways to encourage a burgeoning new relationship, or to whittle away at the bedrock of a marriage, or sometimes even place prop upon prop to buttress the sweet beginnings, only to wash away the entire romance in a flood of bad luck and incompatibility. A relationship therefore, is a living, breathing entity with a mind of its own. All we can really do is ride upon its back and hope for the best. You might place a bullet in its chest and bury the beast, leaving it for dead. And indeed you may have killed it, but you are just as likely to see it gamboling back to you as alive as on the day you first saw it birthed into being. Both a blessing and a curse, a relationship is what you make of it. You might find your paths diverging in the woodlands, and it may be time to shed a tear and whisper a goodbye. Other times, you collide with each other as you turn a corner and all you can do is brush yourself off, take a deep breath and say ‘Hello'.
There will be a small corner of your heart, somewhere between those veins and arteries, which will belong to him/her forever.

Many breakups, especially those from long-term relationships, involve walking away from a good thing. There are still many positive aspects to a relationship that ends, it's just that those good things start being outweighed by the bad things. Or even harder, a realization that there are bad things to come, and so you make a pre-emptive breakup. One of the hardest parts of breaking up is remembering this ratio, the underlying logic of the decision, and not fixating on all the wonderful parts of the person you're walking away from.

And finally, it's difficult to recalibrate your sense of self as someone who "doesn't have a partner." Your identity becomes tied up in the partnership. You train yourself to think of their happiness along with yours, to plan events that you'll both enjoy, to think what they'd say before you make decisions. The process of unlearning that is arduous, and becomes a constant reminder of what you've lost. Similar to the reimagining of the future, this pops up in all sorts of small ways that hurt each time, as you slowly break the habit. Ultimately, though, this is the reason you broke up in the first place: because you wanted to be an individual more than you wanted to be a pair. It just takes awhile for your identity to catch up. And the worst part is, you don’t even know how to put a closure and lift your belief off those beautiful empty promises. Because putting a closure with this person feels like cutting away this large chunk of your heart! Is there even a way to time travel and undo all the memories that have crowded your heart?

The positives : Break ups are like second chances to live your life. After the pain, you will feel a sense of waking up from a deep sleep. You will get time to work on yourself. Either you pull yourself out of the storm or let it carry you to another shore.
Remember...
  • True love empowers you. It does not choke you.
  • We may be important to people but not all the time. The biggest challenge is to accept this. LET GO.
  • Life is not fair. It never was and will never be. We just have to live it anyway making the best of ourselves and giving our best to others and being good and truthful.
There is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not, everything eventually ends. As much as I've looked forward to this day, I've always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend. But endings are inevitable. Leaves fall, you close the book. You say goodbye. So, say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. Move on.

People will leave you. Often without any reason.
One moment it will be so real but will soon be a distant memory.
Memories will fade.
Life will go on. Without apologizing.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Biggest Flaws In Arranged Marriages In India?


It's based on money and looks.
You can even meet 3 boys or 3 girls back to back on the same date, and pick out the best one. If not, you can meet the next batch of prospects.
It's like shopping. Just like you visit a store and check out a hundreds shirts to buy one who suits you best, same way you jump into the arrange marriage market and chose the best one out of the lot.
But really are they the best one? Some girl's side always want a man who's rich, who's earning in lakhs, who owns a car and a house, who's parents are really good, and seek no dowry. Some boy's side want a girl who's fair, white (as a bulb), slim, tall (not taller than the boy), educated (not more than the boy obviously), who can be a perfect wife and daughter in law. And of course dowry is welcome. Horoscopes are matched. Rahu, ketu, shani decides whether or not two people could be good life partners. Understanding and compatibility? Lol, what's that dude? Rahu ketu rocks!
The guy meets the girl, for maximum half an hour, in some cases 10 minutes, in the presence of parents and families sitting right in the next room (yay so much privacy). The guy and girl are terrified, often asking common questions like hobbies and passions and alcohol and education and jobs, etc. After 10-30 minutes, the families enter back because according to them 25 year olds can choose a life partner in just 10-30 minutes. A life partner and a pizza are equal, both should take 30 minutes. These are the same families who takes forever to finalize even a TV. But when it comes to arrange marriages, 30 minute rule should be followed.
How can anyone, ANYONE, understand how the other person really is in just 10/30 minutes? HOW? The second meeting is only permitted when you say yes in the first. If you say no, the second meeting is not happening. How is anyone supposed to really know about someone in such circumstances?
Yes, in the modern times, people can communicate more via mails, messages and calls. But still the time period, the communication is just too less in arranged marriages. It can take years to know a person. Sometimes is does work in the favour because of the surprise element, but more often than not, there are lot of incompatible couples almost forced to live together because of the social boundaries of the Indian society.
It's not that the arranged marriage setup is totally bad. I'm sure it does have it's own advantages, but as India is progressing, I really wish it looses it's importance. People should be allowed to choose their own partners, according to their own compatibility, and not on the parameters of caste, religion, money and looks.
Lies are very common in arranged marriages, lies about salary, family backgrounds, previous relationships, habits, the girl puts up the best dress and make up, that's a lie too. The guy puts up his best behavior, lie. If you have to marry someone, shouldn't that person see your natural face and behavior?
The biggest flaw of arranged marriage is that it's just like a game of gamble. If you're lucky, you can hit the jackpot, if not, then only Lord can save you.
In arranged marriages, people just scan around and quit, thinking it will not hurt feelings as there is no bonding between girl and boy. But it hurts some individuals, to be treated as commodities.

The matrimony profiles are not truthfully filled, because it is filled by the parents, most of the times. For e.g someone is a non drinker/non smoker as per their profile; this can be because the parents don't know this fact about their kid, or that the parents know and conveniently leave this out to broaden the scope of potential matches.

Health/medical history are not usually revealed in this process. The most commonly hidden ones are depression, epilepsy, impotence, night blindness, heart issues. Have personally heard or come across many such cases which eventually ended up in messy divorces.

Most Indian males are confused a lot. Especially the ones who are earning comfortably well and are pretty settled in their careers. Sometimes, I pity them and mostly they invoke pure disgust in me. They feel threatened when they talk to a girl who has her own mind.

Most guys are certainly not good looking at all (I know it's shallow to even type this!), yet expect to find a beautiful and pretty girl (according to their fucked up standards). Often the excuse given for the beer belly, dark circles, receding hairlines and tobacco stained teeth is job pressure and the fact that they earn better than the girl. So money justifies everything, wow. But if you are 28 and look like a 40 year old, then it’s not just aesthetics that are going against you, but it clearly shows you are not physically healthy and take your health for granted. Isn't it?

Pleasing everyone, except the bride and the groom : Even the opinion of a distant relative, who was virtually invisible until then, begins to take more precedence than the bride/groom.
 
Expectation Management: It pivotal to understand that that the current generation is leaps and bounds ahead of older ones. We don’t blindly follow things but we need to rationalise everything and then decide what suits us best. So first and foremost don’t judge the boy or the girl from your expectations (in-laws/parents), rather appreciate how well suited they are for each other. Also, understand that the girl didn’t spend the last 25 / 28 / 30 or 32 years of her life to just become "the wife". Don’t let marriage be a deterrent in her professional growth or whatever her aim in life is. The boy and his parents should not look for someone ONLY to clean, cook, look after the house, and take some work load off the mother - Maids are better suited and qualified for these tasks, not a wife. That doesn’t mean a girl wants to run away from all these responsibilities, or I am looking down upon maids, but these responsibilities shouldn’t be her ONLY part of life, after marriage.
Don’t try and pressure a girl by saying she is a part of the "new" family. The girl is as much a part of the new family as the boy is of her’s. Respect, love and honor is a two-way street. It mustn’t be demanded, rather earned.
FOR PARENTS - Also, parents must learn to cut the umbilical cord. Don’t expect them to move-in with you. Let the couple figure out what works best for them. There is no rule that says, what worked for one will work for all. Let them make their life the way they want, face the hurdles together, make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what a marriage is, right?