Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Colorful Notions - Book Review


Colorful notions is a road trip novel. Three friends, one girl and two boys go on a road trip. When so is the case, a love triangle is inevitable. Did I forget to mention that they are making a video of their trip as well. May be because the writer too forgets it most of the times. Soon a TV producer takes the project under its wings. Our trippers have their past too. Ab is distanced from his mother or has his mother distanced herself from him. The dying Nani has left him a sealed message. Then comes a Buddhist monk or lama who distributes pearls of wisdom to our troubled friends. Needless to say this drama set on roads has a happy ending where not only the lovers but also the mother-son are reunited.

The first three fourth of the book tries to step into too many territories and fails. You are confused as to what you are reading. Is it a travelogue? Is it a love story? Is it a family drama. The road trip takes us to Jim Corbett park, Ladakh, Wagah, Bhangarh, Goa, Hyderabad, Sunderbans. I guess the author hasn’t visited all of these places. The same is evident from his writing. It appears patched and borrowed.

In the final quarter the plot becomes clearer and hence interesting. It is here that all the drama unfolds. I liked the writer showing a whoring mother. This is something new and hence bold. It shows that even mothers are prone to commit mistakes sometimes. It is only for this character of an erring mother, I recommend reading Colorful Notions. 
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Friday, 23 December 2016

7 Secrets of Vishnu - Book Review


Devdutt Pattanaik tries to decode the Hindu mythology by offering plausible explanations. In the 7 Secrets of Vishnu he tells us that the stories of Vishnu rose to prominence after the rise of Buddhism.

The opening chapter tells us about the use of gender in Hindu philosophy to explain the metaphysical concepts of Hinduism. Here we meet the famous Mohini.

In the second chapter titled Matsya's Secret the author distinguishes between the difference between humans and the beast. It is only the humans who can empathise and it is only the humans who can exploit.

In the following chapters titled Kurma's Secret and Trivikrama's Secret, the author makes a startling revelation by stating that both the Devas and Asuras are unhappy. While Devas are gripped with insecurity, over-ambition is the cause of Asuras grief. Devdutt's books add to our knowledge. I came to know for the first time that the Devas and Asuras are born of the same fathers. That makes them step brothers. According to the author the word evil used to describe Asuras has no place in Hinduism. For in Hinduism the whole world is manifestation of the divine.

Ram and Krishna come in the fifth and sixth chapters. The future avtara Kalki is included in the final chapter.

The author says that he ancient texts are not embarrassed by sensual pleasures. They appreciate their value but also warn of the dangers of overindulgence. Speaking of Vishnu's consort he says Lakshmi is typically drawn towards places where Saraswati resides. That is why prosperity always follows peace. However when Lakshmi comes attention shifts from Saraswati to Lakshmi. Enraged Saraswati leaves.

By reading the book I came to know that the notorious demon Narakasura is Vishnu's son. Even Asuras obtain liberation using reverse devotion. In this method in hating God, one remembers God all the time and thereby earn God's affection. The author tells us how Krishna earned the epithet of Ran-chor-rai. Further he says that Krishna cannot hate anyone. His love makes room for the weakest, the cruelest, the most imperfect. This is Dharma.

The book contains beautiful pictures of various paintings, sculptures and even calendar arts. Some of them are captioned vaguely as a South Indian wall carving. I wish the location and the name of the temple had been mentioned. That would have made this otherwise good book even better.
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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Heart of the Matter now into a book


Heart of the Matter now available on amazon http://amzn.to/2hBL9ft

Happiness is all around you. You just need to open your eyes, and tune your mind to perceive it. This collection of short stories demonstrates how a random stranger, a grumpy boss and even a stray beggar can make you happy. One thing is assured, after reading these stories there will be a smile on your face, warmth in your heart and your will feel good 
Click here to read the book


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Knitted Tales - Book Review


Rubina Ramesh’s debut book is a collection of short stories. Secret in the closet is about reincarnation of the servant girl Chunni who accidentally dies only to be reborn as the daughter of the woman who had killed her. This story is has a dramatic end, in which the woman is found dead exactly in the same circumstances as the girl did. I liked the end but the doctor directly suggesting past life regression in the first meeting itself does not sound credible.

Betrayal is a story from the dead man’s point of view. This story is about how a wife kills her abusive husband and tragically joins him in his death too. I liked the narrative from the dead man’s point of view. I also liked the end.

Chicklets is about racism and inherent good nature of humans, including the children. Set in the US, this story is realistic. I could identify with the girl who doesn’t fit in a given culture and ironically how her differentness turns to be an asset to forge a new friendship.

Lolita again focuses upon the dark secrets behind the glamour world. 

Rubina deals with incestuous relationships in No Regrets. This is a bold story which daringly ventures into an unforgotten romance between cousins.

SuvarnaRekha deals withhonour killing. The little Godmother is about sibling rivarly and how the older sibling has a change of heart. Though the subject is interesting, the opening where Arunee hurls unladylike curses creates confusion. At this point of time she is unaware of the new member in her family. She doesn’t even know that her mother is pregnant. It would have been better if this change in behaviour was reflected post the second child’s birth.

The Missing Staircase is about how a granddaughter meets her dead grandfather on her own death. The Other Woman is about a female activist who helps the wives who have been deserted by their husbands for another woman. In reality she herself is the other woman in someone’s husband’s life. Daddy Hear Me Out articulates the emotions of a young girl who is compelled to study a course which she doesn’t like. Cliff notes is a nice story. The narrator here is the Himalaya. I liked this story for the voice which the author uses.

Though death, afterlife is  a predominant theme of this collection, the author deals with a number of other sensitive topics as well. I give her full marks for the variety of topics she weaves her story around. I also liked the way she experiments with her style of narration. Yes, at places the narrative does sound insipid and amateurish, but read this book to understand how the same story can be told from different perspectives. It will be a learning experience. 

Heart of the Matter now available on amazon http://amzn.to/2hBL9ft 
 

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Flaky Mummy - Book review


I have a new born at my house. That was the reason why I picked up Madhuri Banerjee and Rohini Tiwari’s The Flaky Mummy – A quirky guide to surviving motherhood. As I read the book with all the dedication, devotion and sincerity, I thanked all the Gods in the heavens for I did not lay my hands on this book during pregnancy. Otherwise the newborn would have been still born or would have suffered from chronic lunacy. Such are the tips in this book meant to be a guide for surviving motherhood.

Having said that let me tell you I haven’t read anything as humorous as this book in my life. This book gave me a good belly laughter on almost every page that I turned.

This book offers funny and obviously insane tips on child rearing. There are five case studies in hand. A Punjabi mother who comes with all the craziness and colourfulness that surround a Punjabi family in the media, whether print or electronic. A tiger mother who wants to be the perfect mother. No wonder she plans her conception according to the Chinese calendar. A fad loving disaster mother who wants to try all the child raising strategies and whose quest for knowledge is unquenchable. An American mother returned to India, a page three socialite who marries a small time prince and manipulates everything in her life including her pregnancy to fit into the ideal pictures in the newspapers and in the words of the authors a menopausal woman hitting jackpot with her last egg, add to the madness that pervades throughout this book. Read the following lines from this insane journal of motherhood.

A fact that most diaper-using parents miss out is that as soon as the baby has had a bath and worn fresh clothes, she will soil herself once again. As I carry Priya, every time she relieves herself, I too, am relieved of the clothes I am wearing. Within a day I am ready to exchange all my wedding jewellery for a large packet of Pampers, all without the blink of an eye.

The nanny says, “ Now if you have one child, I can work for you. But two children! Are baba! Itna kaam! I am no Durga! Two hands can only hold one child. If you somehow had only one, then I would’ve work for you.”

She was the quintessential domestic maid who came with the whole baggage of alcoholic husband, three school-going children and various other problems.

At my last count, each of the three maids- including Meenu three who was not yet married – must have, between them, lost some twenty-two aunts and eight sets of parents-in-law. As for the two Chottus, they managed to produce six children between them, in about three years, without visiting their wives in the villages.

The author duo creates a number of caricatures including the protagonists in each of the chapters. Interestingly they stretch real life traits to the optimum and hence their humour appealed to me. This is a book not to be missed. This is undoubtedly one of the best books that I have ever read. I would love to read the next one in the series, if the authors plan to have one no matter - planned or accidental.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Peshwa - Book Review


My first impression of Ram Sivasankaran’s the Peshwa was that this book attempts to cash on the popularity of the film Bajirao-Mastani. I thought this was a film made into a book. But thankfully the book proved my preconceived notions wrong. This book is about Bajirao and not about Mastani.

This book traces the journey of Bajirao to the seat of Peshwa. When the novel opens we meet a young Bajirao who accompanies his aging father on his expeditions. His father’s ill-health makes Bajirao a chief contender to be the next Peshwa. But Peshwa’s post was never hereditary. This leads to a power struggle between Bajirao and Sardar Dabhade. Eventually it is Bajirao who becomes the Peshwa.

If Bajirao is the protagonist of this book, then Nizam-ul-mulk is its antagonist. This book is as much about the Nizam as it about Bajirao.

The author does a wonderful job in articulating the dynamics of human relationships. Be it power struggle between Bajirao and Dabhade or Nizam’s relationship with his adopted son, he gets it right. He brings human greed, ambitions, insecurities to the fore. The sect of Scorpions adds intrigue to this fast paced narrative. He does reasonable justice to Bajirao’s wife Kashi as well. The parallel tracks of Dabhade-Bajirao, Bajirao-Kashi, Nizam-Syed-Emperor and Nizam-Rahim make this novel multi-layered, colourful and damn interesting.

What I disliked about the book is that ends abruptly with Mastani’s entry. Perhaps the writer makes way for the next part in the series. However he should have made it explicit.

While the writer gets Maharashtrian Brahmin culture correct at some places, at some places he goes terribly wrong. Maharashtrians do not come dressed in all white for funeral. The same goes true with the names Kashmira and Jamnaben. Kashibai combs her hair in the midnight. Maharashtrian women look down upon combing the hair in the evening or night. For it is only the streetwalkers who get dressed up at those hours. The writer also depicts Maharashtrian wedding incorrectly. I wish he had researched a little more about these aspects.

Yet, I liked the Peshwa. If you are a lover of historical fiction, you will like it too.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

7 Secrets of Shiva - Book Review


The first chapter of Devdutt Pattanaik’s 7 Secrets of Shiva focuses on the meaning of the Shiva-linga, a meaning which is deeper than the titillation offered by a phallic symbol. The author says that the Western preference for form over thought stems from their cultural preference over the subjective. Hindus, on the other hand, are very comfortable with the subjective, hence can easily overlook form and focus on thought. The second chapter looks on Shiva’s violent contempt of territorial behaviour amongst humans. The third and fourth chapters of the book look at how the Goddess gets Shiva to engage with the world out of compassion. The next two chapters deal with Shiva’s two sons Ganesha and Murugan, through whom he connects with the world. Shiva is the only God who is worshipped along with his entire family viz. wife and children. The final chapter revolves around Shiva’s role as a wise teacher who expresses wisdom through his dance.

The author says when the perception is incomplete and inaccurate, God is not worshipped as in the case of Brahma. When perception is complete and accurate, God is worshipped as in the case of Shiva and Vishnu. He further says that Shiva is a God who breaks free from all forms, having found all of them limited, hence he is the destroyer who is worshipped as linga.

According to the author, Dutta is the gentler form of Bhairava. Speaking of Yagna he says that it is all about controlling the wild nature and domesticating it so that it comes under human control, becomes manageable, predictable and hence less frightening. He say the rice balls offered during funeral ceremony represent the human body because ultimately food forms the building block of the flesh. I liked this logic offered by the author.

He says if Lakshmi brings wealth, then Sarawati brings peace. Only Ganesha is able to bring them together. He removes the obstacles to wisdom. He narrates the various versions of how Ganesha got his elephant head. But I have one query, why didn’t the all powerful Shiva not fix the boy’s head back on his body. Why did he require the head of another animal? Unfortunately this query is not answered in the book.

Yet with its simple narrative, interesting anecdotes, 7 Secrets of Shiva is worth reading.

Monday, 5 December 2016

7 Secrets of the Goddess


Hindu mythology is an esoteric secret. Devdutt Pattanaik is one of those persons who has tried to interpret the underlaying meanings behind Hindu mythology and of course the Gods and Goddesses therein. Reading his books is sheer delight and 7 Secrets of the Goddess is no exception to it.

In the opening chapter Gaia’s Secret the author narrates how female form have been reverred through all times and cultures, chiefly because of her ability to give birth to a new life. He says that earlier virgin woman, meant a woman who was ready to bear a child. Every woman then was a virgin between the menstruations at the time of ovulation. This virginity is restored after childbirth. He then tells us how the sense of ownership and the dominance of the males degraded the status of the women and gave them a secondary status in the society.

Kali is undoubtedly most interesting and most scary form of the Hindu Goddesses. The author makes a very bold and perhaps far stretched conclusion that Radha has all the characteristics of Kali not in form but in thought. He refers to the unabashed love of the married Radha towards Krishna. Speaking of Kali, he further says that it is the Kali-side of Draupadi that makes her take the vow that she will wash her hair with the blood of the men who abused her. In fact, in these traditions, the story goes that Vishnu takes his various avatars such as Parshuram, Ram and Krishna only to satisfy the bloodlust of Kali, who wants to drink the blood of men who treat her with disrespect.

According to the author the head is the home of the Saraswati and perhaps that is the reason why Hindus paint their forehead with sacred marks. A dot, or the bindu, in the centre of the forehead is an indicator of human potential.

Speaking of Laxmi he says she is the daughter of Puloman, who rules the land below the earth and does not release Laxmi easily. Humanity has to invent complex agricultural and mining processes to procure wealth from the earth. Laxmi is attracted to men of actions that demonstrate strength and smartness. If you display strength and shrewdness, she will come to you. If you fail to do that, she will not stay with you for long.

The author adds to our knowledge by sharing with us that in the yagna-way there is no clear concept of God. There are only gods or devas. In the puja way gods/devas are replaced by God/Mahadeva, the tone is more emotional than technical.

There are interesting tales of Gauri, Durga, the more benign form of Kali and Vithhai in the book. In the latter case he elaborates the Purusha and Prakriti, and the traditions of seeing the female form in the male form.

This book is damn interesting. You will not put it down until you have reached the last page. All of us are accustomed to the authors illustrations. But over a period of time they had become repetitive. In this book we have rare pictures on every page on the left. The captions associated with them are prosaic. Better particulars of those images would have definitely helped an inquisitive reader to quench his thirst for knowledge.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

My father is a hero


My father is a Hero by Nishant Kaushik is about a single father Vaibhav and his daughter Nisha. Nisha is in her school. On one of her birthdays she discovers that she was an unwanted child for her mother and that was the reason why she deserted her father. Since that day Nisha remains withdrawn. It affects her performance at school too. She is a great fan of a pop star called Rihana. Finally after many dramatic incidents she meets her icon and the novel ends.

A single father and his daughter’s relationship was an interesting premise. Unfortunately the plot falls flat. Thanks to the equally flat characters which have no skin, flesh and voice of their own. The novel consumes too much time in Vaibhav’s love-hate relationship with his boss. Sub-characters like Nisha’s teacher who has hots for Vaibhav distract the novel.

But the novel shines towards the end, especially when the father-daughter duo goes to Australia to meet Rihana. Here the novel gathers the much needed pace and linearity. The tension, the disappointments come out very well in this part, which forms only the last few pages of the book. I liked the line, ‘He always knew he would never be able to show her the world. But he did hope he could make those three days mean the world to her.’

The author commits mistakes like describing Vaibhav Kulkarni wearing a veil of flowers in his marriage. Maharashtrian weddings do not have this custom. Such mistakes, though minor, make the story unreal.

So read this book at your own risk

Friday, 2 December 2016

The Laughing Skull - Book Review


Hill stations are all about the soothing weather, susurrating woods, singing birds, lonely houses standing near the cliffs and ghosts residing in it. No wonders paranormal finds a mention in India’s most celebrated writer of the hills Ruskin Bond. The Laughing Skull claims to contain stories of ghosts and spirits, prets and jinns. But let me warn you these are no ghost stories the way we are conditioned to perceive. These are typical Ruskin Bond stories in which the ghost is just an another character.

The opening story the Laughing Skull is about the author’s love and hate relationship with a skull which his medical student nephew brings along with him. Susanna’s Seven Husbands made famous by Vishal Bharadwaj in Saat Khoon Maaf also is a part of this collection. The only ghost here is Susanna, who is seen driving into her buggy many years after her death. This ghost of course is just a passing reference and is not an integral part of her story.

The Overcoat and On Fairy Hill are about the seductive encounters of the author with beautiful young nymphs. Bhoot Aunty which is an extract from Mr. Oliver’s diary comes here too. This story reminds me of O Henry’s writings. A Face in the Dark which has been published in earlier collections of Mr. Bond is a part of this collection too. The Chakrata Cat is about a cat with a human head. From the Primaeval Past is the story of a man-eater lake. Some Hill Stations Ghosts is a random collection of ghosts of various hills.

Pret in the House which is the author’s favourite story is my favourite too. This story is about a ghost which decides to move to a new house along with the family. A Traveller’s Tale is again about a colonial ghost, who is an obedient servant. A Dreadful Gurgle is set amidst the dormitory of brats. He Who Rides Tiger is about a Muslim fakir named Mobrah Gazi.

The Wind on the Haunted Hill is about three children who mistake each other to be the infamous ghosts. He said it with Arsenic is about the author’s uncle Jones, a male nurse who uses his access to medicines to kill his and his paramour’s spouse, and in the old age decides to use the dose on the author. A job well done, with no ghosts, no spirits, is about how the author’s step father was buried alive into a well. In a Face Under the Pillow the author tells us why he carries his own pillow wherever he goes. A Demon For Work is the story which is part of the folklore. It is about the demon who cannot sit idle. The Happy Herdsman and the Tiger King’s Gift are fairy tales and not a ghost stories for sure. The Wicked Guru too has no any trace of any paranormal element. The Ghost and the Idiot is about a ghost which is terrified of the idiot's belligerent wife.

Eyes of the Cat is a story about a poor girl who is insulted by her teacher. Ruskin Bond builds the intrigue very well in this story and we are left with enough material to surmise that it is the girl who turns into leopard in the night. The White Pigeon is a story about promises kept after the death.

Ruskin Bond is ever green. He entertains through his stories which are of course not scary. But the book is ridden with punctuation errors. I wish these were avoided.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

I'd rather read - book review


 
Books give immense pleasure. Only the person who is fond of reading can understand the unparalleled joy which books give. So it is indeed a great treat to read what authors feel about their favourite books. I’d Rather Read comes with a subtitle Your Favourite Authors on Their Favourite Books. However the book is more about how these writers were inducted into reading than their favourite books.

While Sudha Murty and Ruskin Bond have written (in their other writings) about their childhood and the influence which reading has had on their childhood, others writers have seldom written about it.

Jash Sen very beautifully creates the atmosphere of reading a thriller in the late deserted night. I held my breath and absolutely related to him while reading the following lines. ‘Over the next few hours, you will hold your breath, you will breath shallow out of excitement, but you won’t know it, for the story will build up tension and all you will remember is to much on a biscuit every time it gets too tense.’

Indeed Jash Sen’s piece is exciting, thrilling and undoubtedly USP of this book.

I also liked what Anita Nair has to say about children. She says, ‘Children don’t remember authors. They remember stories. A child doesn’t read a book because it is fashionable to do so. They read only because the story speaks to them. Children start a book with neither prejudice nor expectations. That makes them a true reader in every sense.’

Arundhati Venkatesh speaks of a childhood which every child born in or before eighties can relate. She says that during her growing up years the adults were too busy with the household chores to foist the books on her. They nagged endlessly about posture or poor lighting and complained about her reading habits. Her words brought my mother, grandmother and father in front of my eyes.

In her write up Deepa Agarwal says, a book is a gift box of all the possibilities you can conjure up to transform your mundane world. So read on!’

This book is a rare feast for every child and every person who was a child at some point of time. This book is not to be missed.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

This all about my Jug


We were standing outside Regal Cinema. The show was to begin at 3 pm. I checked my watch, it was 2.30 pm. The doorkeeper had told us that we would be taken inside only five minutes before. Helpless we waited outside the cinema.
'Come on, let us go and eat something.' Sagir said.
'No. If we do that we will be late. I do not wish to miss the beginning.' I said.

'Ok. Then let us eat mangoes.' He said and took out two mangoes from his backpack.
'Here?' I asked as I preened through the crowd which was waiting outside the hall.
'Yes.' Sagir said.
'We don't have a knife to cut it.' I said.
'You don't need a knife. Just press the mango from all sides and then bite it. The juice will flow into your mouth.'
'What others will say?' I asked. I was uncomfortable eating mango in full public view in the most dirty manner.
'What they will have to say? Are we smoking? Are we eating pan masala? We are not indulging in any addictions. We are eating the gift of nature.' Said Sagir and squeezed the mango into his mouth.

At that moment I wondered when was the last time I had done any thing without thinking what others would say. I admired Sagir's ability to carry out the commands of his heart. Yet I was uncomfortable eating the mango with both my hands.
By now Sagir was about to finish his mango.

'What are you thinking? Simply go ahead.' He said.
Hesitantly I pressed the mango very gently from all sides, as if it contained my baby.
'Now chew it from the side of the stem.' Sagir said.
 

I followed his advice. The juice of the fruit had never tasted so sweet. But some of it trickled down my elbows. I was embarrassed. What others would think of me? They would consider me to be a dirty, unsophisticated man. But as I continued to eat the mango, all the shame, discomfort withered away.

When I finished it I thought that I ate fruit of confidence rather than the mango. That mango not only made me feel confident but also made me happy. Suddenly what others said did not matter at all. I had overcome the what others will think syndrome. This is what my Jug, my Sagir had taught me.
Our weekly escapades made me even more confident and happy. We would sing loudly on the deserted streets of Fort, which during the night time were almost deserted. We would eat at the most unhygienic stalls and laugh to our hearts content.


 Before meeting Sagir, I behaved as if the burden of the whole world was put on my shoulders. But Sagir taught me to laugh, he taught me to enjoy, he taught me not to take life too seriously. He taught me to love myself. For this act of his I am eternally grateful to him. 

am writing about Jug in my life for the #DearZindagi activity at BlogAdda 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Secret Diary of Kasturba - Book Review


Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s the secret diary of Kasturba is not about Mahatma Gandhi, it is about the man called Gandhi. This book tells story of Gandhi’s family life from the perspective of his wife Kasturba. Gandhi, his ideology, his political struggle also forms a part of the book. But that is just a backdrop. At one place Kasturba says, ‘How paradoxical was the situation! The entire nation revered Bapu, as the chosen one, the greatest liberator of the oppressed classes, but the injustice that his own family faced at the hands of their messiah, needed to be exposed.’ These lines carry the gist of the book.

The secret diary of Kasturba starts with the birth of Kastur and Monhandas. It takes us on a journey to Gujarat, Africa, Maharashtra and many other places. Needless to say this journey is not just about places, it is also about people and more importantly it is a journey within. Surprisingly her diary continues even after her death, until Mohandas dies. The book articulates the insecurities of a young bride very well. Harilal, the eldest son of the couple is the tragic hero of the book. The author brings to life his vagaries through her way with words. Your heart goes out for him and you feel that Gandhi did injustice to his family.

The book tells us everything about Gandhi in a nutshell. It tells us that Gandhi was against intercaste and interfaith marriages. It speaks of Gandhiji’s relationship with Sarala Devi. It says, ‘Mohandas treated Sarala Devi as his spiritual wife, after an intellectual wedding, and he openly claimed that he bathed in her deep affection as she showered her love on him in every possible way.

To call the book as the Secret Diary of Kasturba would be inappropriate. She writes about incidents, people who she was obviously not aware of on that given date in her diary. Also as stated earlier her diary continues even after her death. At the most it can be called a story told through Kasturba’s eyes but certainly not her diary. Also at places the writing is scattered. Some links are missing. I was unable to understand how a young Kastur who is driven out of her marital home on charges of infidelity returns to her husband.

Yet on some points the book scores very well. Gandhi-Harilal conflict is the high point of this book. It is heart-wrenching, poignant and even entertaining. That is the sole reason why I recommend this book.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Aspire before you expire - book review


I did not find the title Aspire before you expire interesting. I even found its cover unattractive, repelling. I did not expect much from the book. But this book pleasantly surprised me.

The book begins with an internal scan. The author asks the readers to write about their aspirations, strengths and achievements. In the second chapter he discusses why these aspirations were killed. He says that achievers decide to go ahead, come what may, never give up, face mishaps and take life as it comes. The book contains some of the techniques like writing an obituary, a ten year ahead introduction. The author also discusses the characteristics which keep away people from success.

I really liked the chapter in which the author cites six revolutionary habits for success. In this chapter he tells us about one goal one day, 1 hour highway thinking for every 15 days and one decision day every month. Success is accompanied by stress. The book also offers techniques to manage stress. I liked the art of ignoring suggested by the author. I liked the quote of M F Hussain Youth and enthusiasm are matters of heart mentioned at the opening of one of the chapters. The author also teaches us how to handle mood swings. To control anger, the author says be more logical for logic kills anger.

I liked this book because it covers almost every aspect of our personality and life. Success in terms of the author is success in all walks of life. Some of the techniques discussed in the book are new. They will help us to review our life before it is too late. This is indeed a book not to be missed.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

One Indian Girl- book review


Chetan Bhagat’s much anticipated One Indian Girl is a love triangle. The protagonist Radhika isn’t fair. She doesn’t have an hour glass figure either. She is a nerd. But as an associate with the Goldman Sachs New York office, she earns 2,70,000 dollars a year. When converted to Indian currency it is 1 crore and 50 lakh rupees. Her mother is worried about her marriage. After all who would marry a girl who isn’t fair, beautiful and homely, and more particularly earns a lot more than the boy.

Oblivious to her mother, Radhika has a live-in boyfriend Debashish Sen aka Debu. But he earns much less than her. He feels insecure and an Abhimaan made into a book unfolds. Debu tells Radhika that a career oriented girl like her wouldn’t make a good mother. He walks out of the relationship. A hurt Radhika decides to resign from the job. Her superiors advise her against it and offer to transfer her to Hong Kong Office. She takes up the offer as that gives her an opportunity to go away from New York where every nook and corner reminds her of Deb.

Neel Gupta is a partner at the Special Situations Group in the Hong Kong office. He is twenty years older to Radhika, married and a father of two. Radhika and Neel get attracted to each other. They have an affair. Soon Radhika realizes that this relationship holds no future. She tells Neel that she too wants a marriage and kids. Neel says that these futile things are not meant for a career oriented girl like Radhika and she should better concentrate on her career. Even this relation doesn’t work. Again Radhika resigns and again she is offered a transfer instead of resignation. She accepts it and lands in London.

Radhika’s mother pesters her to have a look at the proposals which she has shortlisted for her. After much persuasion she agrees to marry Brijesh Gulati who works for Facebook. They have a destination wedding at Goa.

Both Deb and Neel gate crash her marriage ceremony. While Deb has realized his mistake, Neel too has divorced his wife. Both of them want to marry Radhika. Radhika refuses to marry either of them. She even cancels her marriage with Brijesh. She meets Brijesh after a couple of months and realizes that he is the man who accepts her the way she is. The novel ends here.

This is for the first time that Chetan has written in the voice of a woman and he does a decent job. His Radhika isn’t that dress-me-up kind of baby doll. Yes, she tries to fit, albeit unsuccessfully, into that image. Lines like why aren’t white-skinned people called rice-ish and my feminism didn’t go anywhere, my masculinity did, make the novel an interesting read.

Radhika shouting at her mother and her mother telling her that she call whenever, end whenever and shout whenever for she is her mother depicts the dynamics of mother-child relationship very well. Chetan captures such moments very beautifully. In another scene when Radhika asks Deb to switch off the TV, he just mutes it. Also the scene where the air-hostess serves Radhika, she feels that this how wives serve their husbands and yearns to have a wife is crafted very well.

What I didn’t like about the book is the fat Punjabi wedding backdrop. We have seen it in numerous bollywood films and even a few books. Why can’t we have a wedding from any other State? Also at places the book abruptly enters into a different territory. The transition between the three stories should have been smoother.

But yes the book brings the dilemma of the Indian girl to the fore. Though it tactfully refrains from offering any solution. At one place the protagonist says that you go to see a much hyped Salman Khan or Shahrukh Khan movie. The movie isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. The same stands true about One Indian girl.

Monday, 3 October 2016

The patient patient


Sameer aka Sam is in his junior college. That’s when he is diagnosed of cancer. The patient patient is the story of how he fights the dreaded disease. At one place in the novel one of the characters says that in English the word patient has two meanings and cancer tests you on both of them. Hence the title the patient patient.

The author Tushar Rishi is himself a cancer survivor. This novel is based on his own experiences. But this book is not a sob story. Rather it is a story of courage, hope and a stroke of destiny. It is sparkling work of grace. Many people have written about their maladies. But this book is very much unlike them. It is the most positive book which I have read.

At the same time the author’s tryst with the disease adds credulity to the narration. The way he creates a private and a government hospital in front of us is simply brilliant. You can feel the interiors, the patients and even the pipes pierced through their bodies. His co-fighters too come across as real people, again with tremendous optimism. He lays bare the hospital culture. He states that private hospitals may have state of art facilities, but when it comes to expertise of the doctors, there is no match to government hospitals.

I liked the following lines from the book ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.’ ‘You’ll have to learn to enjoy whatever comes your way! Life is always beautiful; you just have to look at it differently.’ ‘I would like to tell all my fellow patients, don’t fear a good peaceful death. Fear a bad chaotic life.’

The book is simply flawless. It is hard to believe that this is the first book of the writer. Sam and his relationship with his parents comes across as real. I always say nothing works like honesty. This honestly written book is a page turner. This poignant tale entertains you and at the same time teaches many things about life. This book is a must read. Don’t miss it.