Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Woman who Saw the Future

The Woman who Saw the Future by Amit Sharma is a riveting original story told in a flawless manner. This is the story of Sapna, who gets premonitions about death. All this starts after the accidental death of her brother Vikrant. Initially the family still coping with Vikrant's loss is shaken with Sapna's nightmares. All those who die in Sapna's dreams soon die. She is helpless and in spite of the support of her parents and boyfriend Sahil she is on the verge of depression. Then one day Sapna discovers that she can save people from dying by alerting them. On one such occasions she saves Kabir who owns a TV channel. Kabir decides to cash upon Sapna's powers and offers her a TV show called Lucky People. The TV shows turns out to be a great success. Sapna prevents many mass tragedies. She is respected world over and even wins Noble Peace Prize. Her busy schedule creates a distance in her relationship with Sahil. Sapna is drawn towards Kabir and marries him. The marriage turns sour, but the show continues. One day Sapna gets a premonition that Kabir is going to die. Due to the changed dynamics of their matrimonial relationship, she withholds this piece of information and lets Kabir die. As a result of which she slowly loses out on her power. Accustomed to all the adulation gained from the popularity of the show, she hires a contract killer Angad to create the setting for people to die. The game soon goes beyond her control and one day she is found buried under a fort wall. She was pregnant at the time of her death. How did she die? Who was the father of her unborn child? To know answers to this questions you have to read the terrific book The Woman who Saw the Future.

The Woman who Saw the Future dexterously weaves reality with fantasy. The author succeeds in bringing to life all the major characters. All characters in the novel are major for the story is narrated in multiple voices. Sapna's middle class parents are ubiquitous. The novel opens with gloomy picture. There are too many deaths and the resultant grief. The novel brightens up when Sapna starts saving people. Then it gains both speed and shape of the thriller.

The Woman who Saw the Future has both a fascinating story and an immaculate treatment. Though there are some mistakes like though it is mentioned that Sapna has an habit of inserting like in every sentence, the same is not reflected in her dialogues. At another place police is referred to as singular. But these errors are too small and considering the amazing world in which the novel sucks you into they are pardonable.

The Woman who Saw the Future is undoubtedly the best book I have read in the year 2017. It is irresistible and simply cannot be missed.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Ficticious Dream - Book Review

The Fictitious Dream by Ravish T. Ram is the story of Rakvendra aka Rak. Rak is a BA graduate who suddenly finds himself in a desert. His journey lands him up in a sanatorium and then into the King’s army. He meets strange people in his even stranger destinations. Be it the old man whom he encounters first in his quest or the once famous doctor who now is mentally ill or the guard who once was an honest police man trapped in the corrupt system or Rak’s friend with a weird name called Shapat - the characters make the story even intriguing. Then there is the beautiful and rude princess who steals Rak’s heart. Will Rak reach his destination? Is his journey worth it? In order to find answers to this question you will have to read the book the Fictitious Dream by Ravish T. Ram.

This novel opens up an interesting premise for the readers. You are fascinated to know where this journey is going to lead. The author succeds with a terrific opening. The blurb has already raised your expectations. But unfortunately the novel falters and doesn’t deliver what is promised in the blurb. Lines like The next morning I woke up because of the noises made by those mad people. But when I treated them politely, they said I was sitting there just for masturbating to criminals. Criminals were assaulting the society. Why should are you interested in it? demonstrate the crying need for an editor’s job. A good editor would have certainly shaped this fictitious dream into a good fiction. Yet I congratulate the author for trying something new and not falling into the trap of formula.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Beyond Secrets

Noel, Nidhi and Appu are the lead characters of Alka Dimri Saklani’s novel Beyond Secrets. Noel is a counsellor. He joins the orphanage Ashiyana located in Vadodara. His father though wants him to join the family business. Nidhi is volunteering in the same orphanage. Her parents are not aware of the same. She has misinformed them stating that she is undergoing an industrial training. Appu is a bubbly, lively orphan. Noel feels strange connections with the orphanage. Why has Nidhi lied to her parents? Every character has skeletons of their past and the secrets are revealed at a slow leisurely pace. It is this snail pace that droves the novel on the verge of becoming a boring read. But thanks to the twists that you don’t end up feeling cheated.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Hell! No Saints in Paradise

Hell! No Saints in Paradise is an urban fantasy fiction set in 2050. Ismael is a Pakistani-American student. After a tiring spirtual quest he enters into an alliance with otherworldly beings who send him on a precarious journey of self discovery. Ismael still remains a non-believer, in sharp contrast with his father who is a prominent extremist in Pakistan. Now Ismael has to return to Pakistan. To gain the trust of his father, who stays in a fundamentalist Pakistan, he has to pose as a true believer. Will he complete his mission. This is the story of Hell! No Saints in Paradise.

The book chronicles life of a non-believer. It is not easy at all if you are living in a country like Pakistan. I liked the way character of Ismael is developed. With this book the author has tried to step into a new territory. His writing is clean and error-free. Yet the story appears non-linear and difficult to comprehend. What is the use of germinating a great idea when you are unable to communicate it to the masses in unequivocal words. The novel certainly falters when it comes to comprehension. This book may have been a great book, if it was a bit simplified for the lay readers.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Unlikely Tails - Book Review

The blurb, the initial pages of Mani Padma's debut book Unlikely Tails announce that it is a collection of seventeen stories. However there are eighteen stories in this book. Two stories are numbered as five in the index and in the interior and that makes the eighteen stories seventeen. This blunder for sure makes a bad first impression.

Feeling of rejection, loneliness and death permeates most of the stories. The opening story Prince Charming is about the fluttering of heart of a young woman when she meets the man of her dreams. I really liked the second story in the book Eight Days with Sushil. In this story a depressed girl meets an old friend who lightens up her dead life. I liked the format which the author chooses for narrating this story. Its end though is quite shocking.

The story Harmony demonstrates how music can bring two unhappy souls together. Pammi's Escort Service is about how we all have the money but lack company. Broken heart is an interesting tale where an old woman tells how she broke a broken heart's heart again. Date with future is all about the games that girls play.

Man, Woman and capitulates the dynamics of a seasoned marriage. The story Sabjiwallah falls into the horror genre. The story Breakfast opens at a breakfast table. It is about a woman locked in a loveless marriage, who is drawn towards an out of marriage relationship. In Pursuit of Fame is a multilayered story about parental pressure on children who are forced into reality shows. I liked this story for the manner in which it welds reality with fiction.

Bhaavya delves into the mind of a mentally unsound woman. The Perfect Plan revolves around infidelity and a perfectly planned murder. Mamma's house shows how attachment to places changes with time. Dulliance deals with bride seeing ceremonies, customary for arranged marriages in India. Keep the Change again deals with issues of marriage and money. The last story in this collection titled The End tries to underline that in any given choice you have the power to chose your reaction. Again the author uses a unique format to weave her story.

What I liked about this book is that the writing is clean. These stories are projected as stories about as to what goes into the minds of women. While some stories indeed relate to this theme, some like Sabjiwallah are out of sync with the theme. Most of the stories are prosaic, too abstract. But yet if you want to read something really different, you may go for this book.

Friday, 3 November 2017

No Mud No Lotus - Book Review

No Mud No Lotus, the art of transforming suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh indeed offers a very different yet pragmatic take on overcoming life's problems.

The author who is a renowned Zen Buddhist master says that the main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don't know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption. He states that we have the seeds, the potential in us for understanding, love, compassion, and insight as well as the seeds of anger, hate, and greed. While we can't avoid all the suffering in life, we can suffer much less by not watering the seeds of suffering inside us.

We are truly alive only when the mind is with the body. What a simple yet profound statement. The book is full of such gems. At another place the author says the Buddha said that nothing can survive without food. This is true, not just for the physical existence of living beings, but also for states of mind. Love needs to be nurtured and fed to survive and our suffering also survives because we enable and feed it. We ruminate on suffering, regret, and sorrow. We chew on them, swallow them, bring them back up, and eat them again and again. If we are feeding our suffering while we're walking, working, eating or talking, we are making ourselves victims of the ghosts of the past, of the future or our worries in the present. We are not living our lives.

Speaking of suffering he says part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.

The book offers eight meditation techniques for happiness. Indeed this book is to be treasured.

Let Him Not Sink

Let Him Not Sink First Steps to Mental Health is a manual for adults who work closely with children and adolescents. Unfortunately very little is known about mental health even to the educated people of our country. The poor illiterate masses are so busy in their struggle to make two ends meet that mental health becomes a neglected factor. But the truth is that mental health concerns everyone and mental ill-health doesn't look at if a person is rich or poor. It is for these reasons that this book assumes tremendous importance.

While I knew depression, bipolar disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders were psychological issues requiring expert intervention, I was totally unaware that even anxiety disorders, separation anxiety and selective mutism too form a part of the mental disorders spectrum. This book bursts many myths. A common reason cited these days for depression and many other mental diseases is lack of support system. Though this is one of the causes, the book tells us that mental disorders can be genetic as well as result of birth and delivery related conditions.

The book tries to simplify the mental disorders. It cites as to why early identification of mental problems is important. The book also enumerates essential skills for dealing with children and adolescents. Each disorder is discussed in separate chapters and in every chapter there are boxes containing red flags highlighting the factors which increase the risks. Self-harm among the youth is on a rise. There is a separate chapter devoted to it as well. It was startling to know that if there is history of self harm in the family, the probability of the child having suicidal tendencies rises many fold.

This book by no way can replace the therapist. That is not the intention of the book. It serves its purpose by enlisting symptoms which may fall under the category of mental disorder. If you see them in your children rush for help at the earliest. I welcome this book and wish many more flood the market for mental health is as important as physical health.