Friday, 13 October 2017

Mad Country - Book Review

I had read writers from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But I never knew that English writers existed in the tiny mountain country of Nepal as well. Thank you Mad Country for introducing me to the Nepali writer Samrat Upadyay.

Mad country is collection of eight short stories, all set in Nepal. The setting works in favour of the book for apart from the scenic locations in movies, we hardly know the true Nepal. The author paints an incredible yet true picture of the country which abuts us.

The opening story Fast Forward touches dynamics of media-politics relationship. I felt indeed Nepal has rubbed something from its neighbour and cultural cousin - India. Beggar Boy demonstrates how lonely we are amidst all the riches. Though the reason why the protagonist takes up the life of the beggar was beyond comprehension. The characters in Samrat’s stories work out that way, the way they want, even if it may appear crazy, absurd for the rest of us. He subtly touches homosexuality in almost every story for unintended reasons again.

What Will Happen to the Sharma Family is a light read. It narrates how destiny can turn a zero into hero. In Freak Street we meet an American woman whose soul has turned a Nepali within six months of her stay in Nepal. But what happens when her life oscillates between two nationalities and two contradictory set of values sprouting from them. Dreaming of Ghana again in true Samrat style is the story of freaky people and their freakier journeys. An Affair Before the Earthquake is the shortest story in the book and is about a love story gone all wrong. Mad Country shows who political prisoners are and their lives in the prisons. America, the Great Equalizer is a slightly incomprehensible story again where the protagonist behaves in the most illogical manner.

I liked this book for the different, refreshing flavour which it offers. If you are looking forward for something like that this book is to be lapped up.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Adventures in Farland - Book Review

Adventures in Farland by Moshank Relia is a wonderful book for children. This is the story of Meera who is invited for the New Moon Party at the Farland. Two brats Bira and Vira accompany her. Windman and Starhead ply her in the spaceship. Their spaceship has an emergency landing. The Queen of Witches holds the Windman and Starhead captive. She has a sinister motive of attacking the Farland. Queen Halo, queen of Farland is locked in the wardrobe. No prizes for guessing that our protagonist Meera ensures that there is triumph of the right at the end.

Writing a book for children is the most tasking task. But Moshank gets it perfectly right. I couldn’t control my laughter when I came across words like Bang Clank, Tick, Tack and Khee Khee Khee Khee. The names of the characters like Toad Hearty, Mastiff the dog and places like Lost Forest and Laughing Village show both the creativeness and understanding of the child psyche of the author. These interesting characters and places are sure to make the book a huge draw among the children.

The writing is simple and the editing is clean. I am sure children would simply lap this book up. Before I part here is a simple poem from the book.

We wish to be with princess everyday
Sandwiches and sausages, endless, ho-ho dance and pray
The Kingdom of Farland is a paradise
Everybody on their feet, dance and dance high
Clap for the toad Hearty
Look how well he is dressed for the New Moon Party
High and high, everybody try.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Invisible Ties - Book Review


Marriage, especially where a woman is trapped in it has made an interesting premise for novels world over. The runaway success novel Eat, Pray, Love had a protagonist struggling to get out of a stormy marriage. Back home, Shashi Desphande's Sahitya Academy winning That Long Silence wonderfully charted the less ups and more downs of an Indian married woman. Pakistani writer Nadya A. R's Invisible Ties wagers in the similar waters, albeit unsuccessfully.

This is story of Noor, who hails from an elite family in Pakistan. The internal disturbances in Pakistan hit her threshold when a gang of hoodlums ransack her house, and kidnap Daisy, Noor's mother. Though Daisy returns Noor's life changes forever. Noor marries Meekal Kalim. Its an arranged marriage and lands up in Singapore. Her husband and sharp tongued mother-in-law keep a distance from her. Unfortunately while reading the novel, I felt all the characters were keeping a distance not only from each other but also from the readers and were crushed under the verbose descriptions and insipid dialogues.

So Noor studies Psychotherapy in Singapore and befriends Ella, her neighbour, who is unwilling to have a child but wants to have one to save her sinking marriage. Ella introduces Noor to Jake, who is struggling with his past and needs some counselling.

From the aforesaid premise it is clear that Invisible Ties had all the elements of a good novel. But the narrative mars the novel. The complex language holds back the characters from taking any shape and make them appear like aliens from another planet altogether. The result is evident – you don't feel anything for any of the characters including Noor. This unintended detachment transforms this novel which otherwise would have been a good novel, if not best, into a boring trip undertaken to satisfy the idiosyncrasies of the author.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Story of My Second Marriage


For paperback in India http://bit.ly/2nOcVGT

Kindle  India http://amzn.to/2opGYaR

Kindle Amazon US http://amzn.to/2nwmsl0

Paperback Amazon US http://amzn.to/2ntiVTA

Amazon UK kindle http://amzn.to/2oyzP3P

 

Zero Debt, Break the debt cycle and reclaim your life - Book Review


Zero Debt, Break the debt cycle and reclaim your life is wonderfully simple and simply wonderful book by Neeraj Deginal. This is the real life story of a man who was crushed under endless EMIs. It narrates us how he was neck deep in debts and how he came out of it to become cent percent debt free. I am sure most of us, who bought a home to save tax, bought second home as an investment, purchased a car because it was on EMIs and are left with paltry salary after all the deductions, will be able to relate to his case. The book states how real estate investment is not always a profitable proposition. The author has incurred losses in all his real estate investments. ‘Buying was always easy; however it is very difficult to sell a real estate property.’ He says.

The book highlights how both the schools and families fail to impart any sort of financial education, and how as earning adults we have to pay the price for it.

The book is extremely well written. The language is simple, yet riveting. The editing is superb. The book is divided into several short chapters. Apart from finance it also covers health and simplification of life. In the words of the author, ‘the overall objective is to celebrate life, enjoy life’. The book is interspersed with quotes like ‘If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will end up working until you die – Warren Buffet’ and ‘The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates and monthly salary – Nicholas Taleb.’ However I wasn’t able to digest one particular averment in the book. ‘Fixed Deposit attracts 30% tax on the interest earned, irrespective of years deposited.’ This cannot be a blanket statement and the tax on fixed deposits depends upon in which tax bracket you fall.

Another startling fact about this book is that it is a copyright free book. Though the book is based on the personal experiences of the author, according to him the ideas are not original. The objective of this book is to offer help and hence the readers are free to copy or reprint any content from it.

So if are struggling on the financial front this book could be your saviour. 
 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

My Way of Being Healthy


1. I get to bed early
By the time the hour hand of the clock passed ten in the night, I start yawing. I slip into my bed. My body clock tells me that it is five and open my eyes.
2. Exercise
I cannot do without thirty minutes exercise, every day morning and evening. While the time period of thirty minutes is fixed, the exercise regime is quite flexible. So I run, I walk, I pick the weights and do some yoga. The mind co-operates when you don't tie it tightly to one particular exercise.
3. No fried items
While there is nothing wrong with fried items, the residue oil which is high in cholestrol and triglycrides is used for cooking food. It is harmful. So I have a rule, no fried things at home. I do eat them when I am out. That restricts the intake of samosas to one or two and the remainder oil doesn't find its way to my stomach.
4. Meditation
I love to meditate. Again like exercise my meditation is flexible. If you impose anything upon the mind it revolts. But you give tiny morsels to it and it begins to like it. I not only meditate behind the close doors, but I am also happy being in the moment while going for a walk and while touching the soft cheeks of my baby.
5. Eat sprouts
Everyone knows the magical effect of sprouts. So I add a little sprouts to my rice. Sometimes I have delicious curries of sprouts too.
6. Count your blessings
Counting your blessings inculcates a sense of gratitude in you. Gratitude goes hand in hand with happiness. A positive state of mind is very important for a healthy body and mind.
7. Eat flex seeds
Flex seeds are the heart's tonic. Some times I eat them raw, some times I make chutney out of it.
8. Laugh a lot
Laugter is so important for a good health. My one year old baby and me have formed a laughter club, where we laugh for no rhyme and reason. When I say, laugh it is good belly laugh and not just parting of lips.
9. Accuspressure
Stepping on the accupressure mat and pressing the points with the accupressure pen is one of my favourite pasttimes. I belive in alternative therapies and indulge myself into it whenever time offers.
10. Don't bloat yourself
Yes I am a foodie and sometimes I eat like a glutton, but at the same time there are days when I spread my food over a stretch, instead of eating it all, at one go. 
I am joining Saffola #ApneTareekeSeHealthy initiative and sharing my ways of being healthy in association with BlogAdda

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Quest of the Sparrows - Book Review


The Quest of the Sparrows has an interesting premise which instantly strikes a chord with the reader. The protagonist crushed under the work pressure and whose marital life is on a toss may appear a reflection of many of us. We then encounter the fundamental question, what is life all about? This leads to a spiritual odyssey. The protagonist Nikhil starts a soul searching journey. When he visits the ashram, he realises that the swami is dead and now he is succeeded by a strapping youth Partibhan. Nikhil has his own reservations about the new Master. Yet he becomes a part of the group lead by Partibhan, which undertakes journey to Ganpatipule on foot. They do not carry a single penny with them and live on alms. In return they agree to do some chores for their benefactor. On this journey they meet people with different temperaments. They touch each other lives and elevate to another plane. Partibhan emerges as a spiritually evolved person in this journey. But there are some who are apprehensive about Partibhan. They believe Partibhan is a charlatan. Again Partibhan has his skeletons of his past buried inside the cupboard. Is Partibhan indeed a charlatan? Are Sanjeev’s apprehensions true? To find an answer to these questions you will have to read the book the Quest of the Sparrows.

When it comes to writing the book is extremely well written. The editing is clean and the pace keeps you hooked to the story. Lines like ‘Being spiritual doesn’t mean one has to be indifferent. Sometimes, controlled anger is necessary to check injustice,’ indeed do offer a new spiritual insight.

But the novel falls off-track with Sanjeev and Partibhan’s past, and our journey to Ganpatipule is abandoned midway. I believe the novel would have been class apart if the authors had chosen to stick to the Ganpatipule foot journey alone. Not doing so makes this novel just an average read.