Monday, November 13, 2017

An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer (Book)

An Infamous Army - Georgette Heyer.

Every-time I come across a new Author especially the Classical ones that I haven't heard so far, my happiness knows no bounds if I like their first work. This book too happened to me accidentally when a SRR brought it for our meet and described the book in one word "Beautiful" the way she stretched it with those facial expressions, I was totally excited. Now, the moment I started reading it last week, first ten pages made me cringe that its a big mistake. Totally not my type of book with at least a good 30 characters introduced in the first chapter itself. Plus the language which initially I just couldn't digest although it took me back in time to the Dicken's era and reminded me so much of much loved Jane Austen too. What I love about their books is the use of words like "presently", "Offices (when they are not talking about work)", "by the by" and so many others that we do not get to read in today's Authors works. As the story progressed it gradually made me fall in love by the time I had hit the page 100. And it became totally unputdownable after another 100. Trust me when I say this that by the time I was reaching the ending (another 200 pages+) I wanted it never to end and prayed that it should have a sequel. But let me tell you, the last 50 pages are simply outstanding, I have never and I mean NEVER read a more beautiful love story with the war as a backdrop ever. I anyways do not reach much war related books but now I've gotta get her other works and I am delighted to know and disclose that most of her works (Historical / Regency Romance) revolve around the same - thats such an amazing thing to know and guess what, this one is actually the fourth of a four book series :).

Also, let me tell you one thing very clearly that my words do no justice to neither the book nor the Author as I am totally incapable of doing the same with my super limited vocabulary so you've got to read this and her other works too. This one revolves around Napoleon Bonaparte's attack on Brussels (Belgium) where the story is set. The first half of the book covers up the drama part and the making of the love angle whereas the second part deals with the War and the end result of the affair in question. I mean this is one of the best love stories which turns into a thriller of sorts, goes through an epic war of the times, kept me totally engrossed (never over doing the war part ever to turn off a fragile guy like me) and ends on an amazing note. As it is a work of fiction what amazes me is that they all are super rich people a kind of fairy tale for us readers when they talk about the Colonel's, Princes, super rich and respected Dukes and what not. Although she had me in splits by the subtle way she refers to Napoleon as "Boney" during the entire course of the book, how funny is that someone calling a legend like Napoleon lovingly as "Boney". Love story of Colonel Audley with the ravishing beauty Lady Barbara (recently widowed and a totally frivolous character) grand daughter of the Duke of Avon. The legacy that they take forward, the way they talk, walk, eat and go for morning walks is so out of this world experience that is very hard to explain and let go so soon. I so much want to continue their story which unfortunately ends with this book. Gotta go back in the past and re read the whole thing.

It is totally unbelievable yet so damn entertaining even when the story goes around exactly 200+ years ago from today. A surreal unreal experience. If you have read this one, I am sure you must be smitten in love with the whole thing just like I am right now but if you haven't read this or her other work exactly like the way ignorant fool that I am, you know what you've got to do man. But if you have read her other works, do let me know how you like it and which one you recommend most to me that I can grab and travel back in time.

Oh! By the way, did I mention anything about the gorgeous book cover? Oh My God. I spent quite sometime looking at that beauty who I hope is no one else but lady Barbara :) but I am heartbroken that the book belongs to someone else and I've got to return it shortly. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ittefaq (2017) - Movie

I saw this movie with my Dad in Law, wifey and kiddo (11 years). Had no memory of Old Ittefaq and since I don't usually read reviews of the movies that I am yet to see, I had no idea what to expect. Hence this was a good surprise and an equally good entertaining movie.
I have always loved Akshaye Khanna when it comes to his looks and acting and he did impress me here too, no doubt on that. Sonakshi Sinha wasnt required at all in this movie, all she does is look good and look more good thats about it.
Sidhartha Malhotra is the surprise package, first time he really gets to act a little after a long time (from the sort of movies he has done so far) and as an Author on run with a name "Vikram Sethi" it was too good .
Plus a movie which is supposed to be a suspense thriller with murder mystery is actually good, if you keep talking about it for hours after it finishes. In that department its a good movie but if you compare it with the movies that we are being served by Bollywood in the recent past, this one is a terrific watch.
Otherwise it felt more like a good to very good "Drama" served as a Suspense, Murder mystery and Thriller.
Ending did surprise me as I was expecting a different ending. Its served on a platter as we Indians are dumb idiots if our movie makers are to be believed. They could have left it to audience imagination but No, they have to satisfy everyone so they fail quite a few passionate people like us.
All in all it was a definite 3/5 and worth watching on big screen as on TV you will miss out a lot of fun and attention and it will be a total disaster. I will give it one star each for Akshaye, Story and Akshay's side kicks (both the cops).
A good family entertainer which invited some good discussions till dinner.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Is reading a book that easy? (Blogpost)

Can a person be in love with two people at the same time and still oblige them both? I am kind of doing the same these days, the problem is that the second person in question keeps changing, Why and How? Read on to know.... The first person that I am talking about is ofcourse the love of my life - my wife Mona :) who else? The second person as of now this week, it is Georgette Heyer, you must have heard of her name, if not, you know now.
Scene 1: 12 O Clock (Afternoon)
Mona: Maid is not coming, if you want to have tea, make it yourself. As I enter the kitchen, Prof Snape stares at me from my favorite mug as if saying "After all this time?" I had to make tea myself? and I say "Always". Georgette Heyer: Calling me to finish the chapter 12: Napolean is about to attack Netherlands, Duke has ordered his army to get together, England has sent a huge convoy to help them too. Before even I could finish the Chapter 12, I get a call.
Mona: Can you take out the cloths from dryer and put them on the terrace please or you will have no Hanky and Socks for office in the evening. (I oblige). Gergette Heyer: Calling me to finish chapter 13: The beautiful widow Lady Barbara has taken Charles for a ride, even after getting engaged with him, she is having fun with his own comrade a married man and the whole town of Brussels is talking. Before even I could finish the Chapter 13, I get another call.
Mona: Arre Suno, can you please take out those diwali lights off from the drawing room window please, I keep forgetting it everyday. (I oblige). Georgette Heyer: Calling me to finish chapter 14: Barbara and Charles engagement is broken, culprit is thrown out of the country and is send to England still smitten in love but committed to his wife. Charles going through the tumult as the Duke is happy that his most important Colonel is finally out of love and is ready for the War. Napolean is about to attack and I get a call again :)
Mona: Do eat Maithi ke paranhte in lunch and leave the aloo parantha's for Naina, she wont have Maithi paranthas you know na? and what are you doing? (I oblige) she knows I am reading. Gerogette Heyer: Calling me to finish chapter 15: The gossip of Charles and Barbara is dying its own death but poor Charles goes back to Lady Devenish even surprising her yet her happiness knows no bounds, I so much want Charles to go back to sultry Barbara and door bell rings.
Naina: Dad, you know I am late? You didnt come down to check on me? I was playing with my friends for last half hour. I respond: I know babe but I finished another chapter in the meantime (with a glint in my eyes). She slams her bag down on the sofa and a book falls off her bag with tears in her eyes "You dont love me anymore, you mean I am disturbing you na.....go away dont talk to me" (Now how do I oblige that).
And people think reading a book is such a cake walk.
Whats your story guys? What happens to Charles and Barbara? Watch out for the scene 2 or wait for my review.
PS: The book in question above is "An Infamous Army" by Georgette Heyer.

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Gurukul Chronicles - Radhika Meganathan (Book)

The Gurukul Chronicles - Radhika Meganathan.
Mahabharat is one of the most loved epic (by me for sure) and if someone asked me about who are my three favorite from the epic, the answer will always be Karn, Bhishm Pitamah and Krishna exactly in that order but my mind is always curious to read or know more about two more underrated characters of all times. One was Eklavya and the other was Ashwathama. If my granny were to be believed and also as per the epic he was Immortal, he was last scene some 30 kms from Kathmandu (her village) around the 1940's when while digging an icy hill some people found a ten feet tall guy inside a cave with a broad vertically split forehead as if he had some sort of a third eye. The moment they woke him up, the first question he asked was "Is Mahabharat War over?" (in Sanskrit) and then no one saw him ever again. Now how interesting is that :) but unfortunately I never get to read anything neither on Eklavya nor on Ashwathama till I landed this amazing book giving the two guys what's been long over due to them. I guess I was destined to read this book as I got a copy from the Author herself long ago and unfortunately it got lost inside my Kindle (A black-hole of sorts as of now). Last weekend I had to travel to Mumbai on an urgent call and return by evening, as I was reading a thick paperback that I couldn't take along, this was my filler read and I am glad I read it. Now, Imagine all these three guys together in a story, what if they were friends? or what if they came to each others rescue, even in fiction it was a too good story to tell and Radhika has done a tremendous job with the same.
When we talk about Mythological Fiction, I must have read a dozen odd books, loved some, hated some but I was mesmerized by the character of Karn, totally loved him in quite a few books. Now this one does the same, although he is a little arrogant in this one but thats alright. Its OK to have some attitude (not when Parshuram is in front of you) but you see its Fiction so lets give it a benefit of doubt, the guy is always struggling for his past and has no future as well. Coming to Eklavya, no one has ever given his story any due and we hardly know anything about his birth, family, clan or what happens to him while the Mahabharat is happening and whats his end? This one was terrific and so was the story of Ashwathama, who never got his due. Yes, he does gets a mention here and a little credit there but never a full fledged story on him ever, this was certainly the best of the stories among the three as per me. What soared my interest was whether these three ever meet in person? and what if they did, that made me sit back and read it back to back without a break. The way story keeps changing the versions was simply awesome, it does takes a little time to realize whose version it is but is done very smartly and totally convincing. A breeze of a book, as I got a Kindle version so not sure about its length but I was able to finish it in two sittings of 3 hours and a little more each.
I just saw its terrific cover to post my review with three heroes on top :), Unfortunately the Kindle copy doesn't even have that :(. If you have read this, do let me know how you like it but if you haven't and you admire any of those characters, you better not miss it. Give it a shot and you will be surprised by the twist and turn of the story(s). I will recommend it big time.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Origin - Dan Brown (Book)

Origin - Dan Brown.

Disclaimer: I love Dan Brown and I totally love Robert Langdon, so if you were thinking this may be a rational or a negative review of his latest outing, please look elsewhere and stop right here. Go back to doing what you were doing.

The moment I came to know a few months ago about Dan Brown's upcoming book "Origin" my heart took half a dozen back flips and I jumped with joy of "Robert Langdon" is coming back :). Crazy that the fan I am of not only the creator but the creation too and another crazy friend of mine (Jazz) went two steps ahead in prebooking the book that too a damn good Hardcover :). All thanks to her, I have developed some biceps and triceps in the last seven days of my reading, loving and finishing it. I am one of those people who will not read nothing about a book or a movie if I plan to read and watch it respectively. I had no idea what all this book is going to be. Going by the name I thought it will give us the Origin of Robert Langdon may be :) but it actually answers the two most important questions for the whole of the mankind "Where do we come from" and "Where are we going" Bravo!! You've got to read the book to know the (convincing) answers that the Author gives through the story and that too before the movie comes out. I hope and pray (I am an atheist) big time that they do make one on this. Dan Brown continues his philosophy from "Inferno" which was not only believable I even loved the solution that he offered in that. This one takes the same philosophy a couple of steps ahead and what an ending, I must say. A book which gives me sleepless nights, is thrilling, suspensive and in the end puts a big smile on my face is a damn good book for sure.

Dan Brown is one of those very few Authors from the current generation who not only keeps the reader hooked throughout the narrative but also keeps them thrilled (almost) to the very end. The way in all his stories his chief character the ever so much loved Harvard Prof. Robert Langdon is on the run saving the mankind from another disaster is simply mind-blowing. I find his books Architecturally too beautiful and this one is no exception in that front either. The way he has captured the beauty of Spain is simply amazing. His magical words made me visualize precisely what he wanted to show me through the story and it always happens in the night that too the secret will be blown before the dawn for sure. Prof does gets (always) a hot side kick and some offsite help too (this time I loved the side kick almost as much as professor himself - Winston). If you have read the book you will agree. What shocked me about this book (to an extent) was religion vs science theory, from Darwin to Steve Jobs, he has left no one untouched and its totally terrific the way he takes real names without any issues. But when you are about to prove that there was/is no God, there will always be forces to stop one from doing that and with a clock ticking to disclose or stop some from doing that, it becomes a terrific cat and mouse chase. With King of Spain to the Prince and his Fiance and supreme religious powers all in the run for the secret - the story just keeps getting better. And since this is 21st Century, can Artificial Intelligence be left behind? no ways. Read it to know how he has pulled it off in a damn good way.

Of-course Dan Brown can never get close to an Agatha Christie book let alone getting better than her but with this one, he was almost not only able to keep me hooked to the ending but also I was able to predict at least half the outcome :). With a 460 page book, till 390 pages, I just couldn't do it but beyond that I was able to guess not only the ending but half the culprit too. That doesn't take away anything from him or the story like I said, its totally convincing and a sort of eye opener too. And I loved the way he answers those two important questions we've been thinking for so long. At-least 3-4 times, I had to stop deliberately and remind myself that I was reading a "Fiction", its that good. I guess this is one of those dozens of books that I have read which refers to Darwin's original theory and book which unfortunately I haven't read so far. Now, I am going to keep everything aside and read the Daddy of them all by the master himself without fail.

If you have read this, do tell me how you like it but if you haven't, you have no idea what a good book you are missing.

PS for those who have read it: Tell me, while reading the last 4-5 pages, did you at all at some point thought that he was going to kill Robert Langdon? or was it only me. For a second I was dreading that. Dunno why. Just need to confirm. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Guide - R K Narayan (Book)

The Guide - R K Narayan.

Unfortunately I had't read none of R K Narayan books for some unknown reason (call it availability as they are still not available in stores - not talking about online stores). Which better book to start but with "The Guide", on which a timeless cult classic movie was made which I believe was a super success. I have already seen it multiple times and the visuals are pretty much intact in my brain with those lavish locations where Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) dances to the tunes of the official "Guide" Raju, terrific Dev Anand at his best and Rehman as Marco (in my imagination), Rosie's Husband whose only interest or reason to live is Archaeology. Because I too loved the book I thought to pick up the book which turns out to be way better narrated than the Movie for sure and I realized they did change the movie ending (Of-course for better) in this case too. The best part of reading this book was the faces behind the characters, it was fortunately so good, the story, the characterization, location (Malgudi), locales, people and their own stories, the book was totaly fun to an extent and then it all derails and derails big time. Flow is terrific as it keeps moving from first person account to third person flawlessly that after a certain time I actually stopped noticing.

The very first unfortunate part of reading a classic in todays time is the "Foreword" and "Introduction", trust me on this, YOU DON'T WANT TO READ THEM. Now onward, I am never going to read them ever before reading the book, rather I would love to read them after I am done with the book. In this case too, they have given out everything about the story, its analysis, critical is still fine or explaining the way R K Narayan handled his stories too is alright to an extent but it made me biased towards so many things before even I started the book, that was such a bad start. I so much wished I hadn't read the Introduction, don't even care now whoever wrote it in this particular edition.

R K Narayan's story is simply brilliant, I mean who can forget "Swami" and "Malgudi Days" at least from our part of the world (India) we loved them so much. The simplicity and the real life characters, situations and what not. Totally had me in splits and a permanent smile plastered on face almost throughout the book. Although its a very short book hardly 200 pages but once the story is set, the mood is made unfortunately it just drags mid ways onward and simply refuses to reach the abrupt ending. Totally unbelievable. Like a friend of mine commented "Murakami looks like a cake walk" as RK Narayan has left so much to be interpreted by the reader in the book that it totally made me not like it all (I hate to call hated it). All the love and affection I had for Raju the guide who falls in love with someone's else's wife just because he wasn't giving her her due (as per him) and later on becomes exactly like her own husband in the first place. It all becomes predictable at some point of time to no end. Didn't expect this from R K Narayan. But then the Introduction and Foreword got me thinking, those guys were actually right about him in calling him merciless. Although this was my first book from him, so I will be very keen on starting my journey with the very start and get the earlier books to know how right these guys actually are about the man.

On his prose, writing, story, characters, locations and almost every other thing the stuff is top notch. But it fails to connect with the reader (or may its me only) and refuses to give me a closure which unfortunately movies gives in a very convincing way. If you have read this and liked it, do tell me how you liked it and if you haven't read it, I don't know what to say :) go ahead take a peek, who knows it may work for you. But if you do read, do come back and tell me your interpretation of the ending. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Complete Adventures of FeluDa (Part 2) - Satyajit Ray (Book)

The Complete Adventures of FeluDa (Part 2) - Satyajit Ray.

I have read a lot of books from a lot of writers from all over the world but no one comes any closer to the way Satyajit Ray writes. Yes, call me a biased Indian, I am one but my love for the man and his art just keeps growing by the day and by every book that I come across by him and even "on him" too. There are books, there are writers and then there is "The Legend called Ray". Hats off to him and the way he wrote. Every-time I come across a book by him I get totally excited but by the time it comes to an end it starts making me sad to have finished the fantastic book and will have to wait till the next one come in my kitty. But the journey is simply amazing, never fails to keep a permanent smile plastered on my face and at times his anecdotes, jokes and comments on his own team by him make me laugh out loud totally. He is almost as good as PG Wodehouse, If I may say that in making me laugh while reading a book, no other author other than these two have that magic on me so far. And this one was special as it actually made my dream come true of seeing FeluDa go to Holmes land and pay a tribute. Just imagine how amazing it is when you see one of your fictional character visit his own fictional character's birth place and pay a tribute. The scene as written by Ray in the story "FeluDa in London" brought tears of joy to my eyes and made me totally breathless as he steps At 220 Baker Street and says "Guru, you showed us the way. If I am an Investigator today, it is only because of you. Now I can say coming to London was truly worthwhile". Very few writers, books and stories have that impact on a reader what this one did to me.

This is the second book of the FeluDa series which he started writing in 1965 and wrote a story each till 1992 (34 in total). Later all these stories got printed in form of two books called "The Complete Adventures of Feluda" Part 1 and 2. He was a huge fan of Sir Doyle and had read all Sherlock Holmes stories before leaving school :). The best part about the success of his stories and his characters was that they were all normal human beings like you and me and no superman. But look at the impact it had on his fans especially children for whom he initially wrote and later realized that even parents too weren't untouched with the stories. I totally loved the way almost all the stories are told in a simple way, no way they made me feel that it was actually Ray who has written them and no Topshe his teenage cousin (to start) was writing them. FeluDa the detective is such a nice warm character that one just couldn't help but fall in love with him. Loved his lopsided smile, the way he will get up in the morning before everyone and finished off with his yoga, shave and dress up, almost in all the stories is simply unbelievable. His acute power of observation and a razor sharp brain on top of that the plethora of knowledge that he had on all the subjects under the sun from history to hypnotism is simply outstanding. Imagine he was not only good in sports, he could actually write with both hands, he could even write in Greek too as its mentioned all over the stories about his "Blue Diaries" that he kept his secrets written so no one could read them.

What I love almost equally well the way I loved FeluDa was his side kicks. Topshe (his Watson) and Jatayu (Lalmohan Ganguli) the ever so comical cheap thrillers writer, always at his service with his green Ambassador. Hilarious I tell you. Just thinking of his name makes me grin from ear to ear, what a man, what a character, he was actually as good as Jeeves (PGW Character) at the service of his master FeluDa :), if you ask me. This part gives him some much deserved footage where FeluDa actually let him fill in his shoes a couple of times to a hilarious outcome. But Ray's love and affection to his other characters was simply superb. Not only these two there is another third character, the Google of then era for FeluDa, Uncle Sidhu, who knows anything and everything about everything but to know more about his character you've got to read the book. The knowledge that Uncle Sidhu possessed is simply out of this world, just one word and he will open up the details without batting an eyelid. Terrific it is. I just fail to understand one thing though that I had so much fun reading the "Translation", I just cant imagine how much fun the original will be only if I knew "Bangla" to really enjoy it. Still I fell I haven't missed much (hope so) and have no idea as what to look forward to now since I am done with this.

One question I have especially from the people from that part of India who have read the FeluDa stories. Is this character "Jatayu" Lalmohan Ganguli actually based on some real life Author? If yes, I would seriously loved to read one of his translated works too. Do let me know if you know anything about that. I will be on the lookout for Ray's other works now, any recommendations will be very highly appreciated. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

On Writing - Stephen King (Book)

On Writing - Stephen King.

Can I call him one of my all time favorite writer even if I have read only two of his books? Now make it three including this one. Stephen King is no doubt a terrific terrific writer (It needs two terrifics for me to make it clear) and I am ashamed to say that I have so far gathered that many guts only to be able to read two of his acclaimed works so far (The Green Mile and The Shining). Former is just an amazing story (Kill yourself if you haven't read it) and the latter is one heck of a book which gave a week of sleepless nights, had to call security to save me from the happenings as things started misbehaving with me like elevators, cordless phones, lights, mirrors and what not. Also, I refused to go to basement parking and had to take a cab to office during that week. Now, that is what Mr. King is capable of doing and when he writes a book "On Writing", you better read it as it actually not only gives you some serious tips as what to do and what not to do if you plan to become a writer but also gives you damn good insights on what went around when he was writing some of your own favorite books and stories from him. Guy has a superb sense of humor and the way he has opened up in the course of this book is totally unbelievable. I thought it will be too business like and preachy but it isn't one bit like that. Rather it actually is his own little biography of sorts with so much personal stuff thrown in that I couldn't believe how he has opened up with his fans. The most important point that he makes very clear to become a good writer is to be first a voracious reader :) So you see we are going in the right direction as per Mr. King.

I read this as I had to prepare myself to write a short story for my daughter. She's behind me for quite a while now to tell her a big about my own childhood in the form of a story. Hence I read this one to prepare myself but unfortunately the kick that his book and words have given me, I feel like I can actually write a book of sorts too :D. Not exaggerating, if you have read this, I am sure you will agree the magic his words have on the audience is simply superb. Being an Author is no easy thing for sure but he makes it look so simple as if its a walk in the park. Not only that but his words and praises are so encouraging even the pointers that he has given, made me wonder why I couldn't think like that earlier (of-course he is the master of the craft). On top of that how he started his own journey, his struggle, no success to little success and finally the making of the "Stephen King" is totally a terrific story. Also, I was expecting he will definitely talk about other writers (his counterparts) as well as Classics too and the way he talks, comments, shoots them as well praises them is simply awesome. I loved the way he is in Awe with John Grisham, that was super good. Also, another thing that I totally loved about him was the way he admires JK Rowling and Harry Potter series that was totally a "Yayy Yayy" moment for me as I didn't expect it at all but you've got to read his reference list that is precious.

Stephen King's personal touch makes this book a very good read. Although hardly 200 pages but is totally enlightening on the subject. I would love to know the thoughts of Author's what they feel about the book if they have read it. And for those who are dreaming to become writers some day, this one is a must must read as its an institute of sorts teaching you how to become a good writer. Another thing I am certainly going to try after reading this book is my own hand on a short story and King himself has mentioned in the book that "If you end up writing a story or a book yourself, do send it to me (and his web address)". Now that is something which is pretty motivating isn't it? Do tell me if you have read this, how you like it and if you haven't, you know what to do :). Go ahead grab it as it tells you so much about the man he is and consider the rest as bonus of sorts.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Keep Calm and Mommy On - Dr. Tanu Shree Singh (Book)

Keep Calm and Mommy On - Dr. Tanu Shree Singh.
I still remember 12 years back one December morning when my wife gave me the breaking news "I think I am pregnant", my first reaction was "WHAT??", "Why, I mean how? Are you sure? We don't even have a car yet?". "You think we are ready for a baby?". Seriously, no jokes. But as the news sank in, I started my research, got loads of book on what to do and what not to, during those days, which was the easy part. As there were so many books and information available that by the time she delivered my darling daughter, I was actually ready to stand near the delivering doctor as if I could assist her too :D. Imagine what good books can do to you. But the real struggle started once the baby grew up to 3+ years. Till the time they don't walk, run, talk and go to school, life is simply great but the havoc starts when they go out and mingle with outside world then the trouble starts and starts a new education for us parents as what and how to do the right thing. It got me thinking what actually is the right thing to do? Unfortunately there were no books available at that time on the subject (hardly any) but now after reading this one I can very well vouch that this is the perfect book helping parents while their kids reach and cross that challenging teenage and enter into the adults world. As I read this one through, kept thinking why something like this wasn't available then :) it would have made our life so easy.
Keep Calm and Mommy On (you can replace the mommy with the daddy very well), was a terrific joyride. Fortunately may be the Author's background or thinking or the way she perceives things was a terrific match with my own thinking or my background and the way my parents has brought me up (they still take my class) - it did feel "been there done that" thing. As my Mom always (read ALWAYS) had the same attitude as Tanu Shree has in her narrative and the way she handles the issues before they blow out of proportions. In today's challenging and competitive environment where our children are taking more brunt than us parents, this is an eye opener of sorts especially for those parents who are still a part of the rate race and the one's who are living in the future and messing with their kids present which can be so beautiful. I am glad to have come across this and it gives me a superb confident feeling that I am doing a lot of things perfectly right as she guides. When it comes to choosing Arts over Science, or No TV and Gadget (limited may be), understanding your children's requirements, Needs VS Wants, the most important aspect of parenting - Communication, when to say "No" and that too with total confidence and frankly. Superbly analysed and served in the most interesting (Hilarious) way for its readers. This is one of those very few "Self Help" books which indeed put a big wide smile on my face throughout its course and every-time I finished one topic or chapter, I will close the book, think of the same episode in our own household and have a grin on my face from ear to ear to know that we are not alone, almost all of us parents are travelling in the same boats (directions may be different).
When I bought this book and while it wasn't delivered I was thinking. Can parenting really be taught by a book? And I realized three decades back I had come across a plethora of books on English Speaking, Boxing, Judo, Karate and what not. Although none of them helped me become any better. But this is one book that I would love to share with all my friends who have young kids, heading for that teenage we all dread (parents) and take the journey as Dr. is advising with the right dose of humor. It may not make you any smarter but will surely give you some real good pointers and responses when you are going to get asked those questions which you have no responses to so far. Also, it has loads and loads of book references as expected :). So if you want to know what more to read, even that is pretty much very well covered and addressed in here. On top of that its such a breeze, light read and short, that it gets over in no time. Makes me wonder can there be a sequel ;) who knows, she may come out with some like "Keep Calm Here Come's The Daddy". If you have read this, do share your thoughts but if you haven't, you've got to read it.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Bladerunner 2049.

Bladerunner 2049.
I seriously fail to understand what direction the world is moving. What I expected and imagined to what this movie turns out to be are so poles apart, Wow! totally unbelievable, the crap of the first order. That too in 3D. Guess the makers have started making movies with only one purpose in mind, confuse the audience properly and impress Mr. Christopher Nolan one way or other. Period.
Year is 2049 so of-course world has ended, the blackout that happens in 2020 is nothing but a Nuclear blast ending everything for a week and then again we start evolving. If not humanly, genetically enhanced life, Bingo that was the last thing which no one tried yet so there you go, this guy did that too. Practically no explanation given as the audience which is keen will go on Google and read about it and satisfy themselves before talking to anyone else about the movie who may see it or not, again just to impress that they actually got what the maker wanted to tell. My Foot! May be I am too old school whose idea of excitement watching a movie is a sweating spitting McKenna on a horseback looking for gold in an African desert. And the current generation of Directors want to impress me and my likes my pulling them inside a Computer System with every second movie. Call it Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and tons of CGI with an earth shattering background score. Use an old superb movies name to pull the crowd in, throw back Harrison Ford in a sort of a little more then a guest appearance. And Voila! you have made a crappy movie lasting 2 hours 45 minutes with almost nothing going on, wait a minute, its just a start, they are now going to come out with a sequel and five more parts following that to satisfy the more imaginative crowd. With population growing at a breakneck pace, everything has millions of takers.
If you have seen this, you have my sympathy(s) and if you have not, skip it as its total crap. Still if you plan to see and actually end up seeing it. Do let me know if it makes any sense to you. Oh and for people watching it in India, full sympathies as censor board has done total justice to whatever little sensuality the movie had, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

31 Miles - Vinita Bakshi (Book)

31 Miles - Vinita Bakshi.

My wife calls me "Mommy's Boy" and I always take it as a compliment, as I fortunately truly am that :) and my mom actually treats me as if I am some Prince. I got the passion and love for reading absolutely from her and she has some appetite for books, whatever, wherever they may be coming from, she absolutely reads everything and anything and so do I too. I dread the day we both read a book and have polarizing opinion about it. Now the book in title did absolutely that. She loved it and I disliked it big time. She read it last month and reviewed too, which I posted as well. If you go down a bit on my timeline you may see it as well. I finished the book today as I was almost on the last few pages, she saw and asked me "Hows it? Isn't it fantastic?", I just  gave her a cursory smile and said "Let me finish it and lets talk". Then I realized one very important aspect, Can age or gender make it any different for different people to have totally opposite opinions about a book? I guess thats the case with this book. She being in her mid 60's may see and interpret it totally differently than how I will do it at this point of time. Or it may appeal a bit differently to a further younger audience, unmarried, married for a while types. Unfortunately, it was a big let down for me, I expected a lot from it specially the premise and by the way it started but midways somewhere it loses its steam and just drags to a very convenient (totally unbelievable) ending.

Protagonist Mansa is a mid 40s gorgeous female, married to a terrific guy Abhijit (COO of a multinational) with a college going daughter studying in UK and another in high school back home in Gurgaon, living in a plush house overlooking a Golf Course. You get the hang right? Now what could be troubling her? that suddenly she realizes her life isn't great anymore and gets into some kind of a cookery course which leads her to start her own business and it all catapults to some height (all believably done, a bit confusing though but OK). Imagine she does all this with superb support of her husband who never stops her from doing and trying anything in life especially the way he not only loves but adores her is too good to be true but made me happy. Still it wasn't enough I guess for Mansa as she expects some more from her life which isn't to be. And then she comes across another guy on the opposite side of the planet through social media and falls for him big time (Desperate Housewives types). What happens next is a believable yet over the top account of her affair with him, totally indigestible for a guy like me, who just couldn't understand why was she doing what she was doing? Or was she going through the same thing that we all middle aged people go through, when life becomes a little predictable, love is still there but romance goes out of the window when we all get busy in achieving our targets and face the routine life which we just cant help, looking at the future prospect of it all?

What totally didn't work me was the background. The way their life is (Super Rich) with no troubles at all, yet there is a little twist about she getting migraines and her husband having nightmares (Sleep walks) which keeps getting lost somewhere in between and keep surfacing again but after long gaps. It all looked such a fluke to me, the whole affair thing that it becomes such a drag to go through to no end. Till it justifies the title and that big let down of an ending. Unfortunately I just couldn't identify with the character of Mansa for why she was doing what she was doing at all. On top of that a publication as good as "Rupa" shocked me with the mistakes they have in the book. Not only names confused at least once to the missing punctuation(s) and even grammatical mistakes (twice) sentence making no sense. Although I don't nitpick neither I am any kind of expert but if I was able to see 4-5 mistakes, a better bibliophile than me will surely find it a big turn off for that too.

I have read quite a few positive reviews on this one earlier, I will definitely go back to them to see what made them like the book but if you have read it and liked it, do let me know how you liked it and if you haven't read it. I will say give it a miss or rather wait for the sequel, it may turn out to be a better story than this one. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Where There's a Will - Piorre Hart (Book)

Where There's a Will - Piorre Hart.

Thanks to SRRs (A group on Facebook) I came across this book and the Author. SRRs are surprisingly credited even by the Author too in the book, thats terrific. Again I heard of this book from Pune Litfest which I somehow missed even after being in town :(. Hence no Author signed copy this time around. Finally got my copy and got an opportunity to read it yesterday. I started it in the afternoon and by the time it was my office time, I was done with 40 odd pages and was in no condition to stop and go out. Right then got a call from my HR informing me that there was some issue in office and I will be required to work from home :) Can you believe that? And as predicted it was over before I could call off my shift from home at 3.30 AM, such was the pace and the story that I just couldn't let it stretch any longer. Another good thing was that a day or two prior to reading this I had finished "Feluda (Part 1)" by legendary "Satyajit Ray" as that book too contained some dozen odd detective stories, I must say this felt like a continuation of sorts. As all Ray books and stories have, this too had a heart and books with a heart never fail to amaze me as its story although fiction is so convincing that I actually felt as if I knew quite a few characters in their co-incidentally one of the lead characters was my namesake :) that even added the fun element for me and gave me a grin from ear to ear throughout.

I have read quit a few Doyle, Christie and Ray stories in the recent past but have never come across a lady detective that too in lead, this was a first for me. But Pranita the detective seriously won my heart that too big time as she is not only gorgeous but damn intelligent too. Even as a Billionaire Businessman's murder mystery is thrown her way by her new boss that too in her very first day of the new job, she takes it in her stride and how she solves the case is the story. As I said this story has a heart that too at the right places. Pranita is no hardcore detective who is all serious and has no emotions. She has her own background and story to tell which develops parallely and is totally amazing. I loved the way Author has developed the characters in the story, may it be over busy father always on trips (there is a reason behind it), or a little sister to be taken care who is about to fly out of her reach sooner, or even the maid who had been filling in for the mother they lost not so long ago. It all falls in the right places in the initial couple of pages and the chase begins to not only find the murderer, but to know the reason behind it and as the title suggests, a lot of "Will's" get tested in the due course. The clues and the decoding are the best part, the way one after another they are revealed and decoded was simply mind-blowing, it kept me in hooks, tried as hard as I could I suspected the wrong person. Even after a handful of suspects right from the very start, my loyalty or shall I say my doubt kept shifting from one to another (prayed my namesake shouldn't be the culprit) the question is not only "Who" but "How" too. And to know how she unravels it, you've got to read the book which is as per me too short but very sweet.

Another thing that I loved about the book is that Author has packed in so much in such a short book that I just couldn't believe it. Also, it is written in such a smart way that a chapter ends every 5-6 pages and the reader is simply hooked to read just one more before taking a break but let me warn you - the break never comes. And before even you could guess the right person who did it all, she unravels it all in superb style. The love angle, thrill, suspense as well as action is so superbly and subtly done that it never goes overboard. I hope and pray that she does writes a sequel as I would love to see Agent Pranita going places to uncover more mysteries.

If you have read this, do let me know how you like it and if you haven't, you've got to read it ASAP. Also, specially for the people who know me a bit better, this guy in the story my namesake isn't he too much like me in real :) barring of-course he is filthy rich ;). Terrific. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The King Within - Nandini Sengupta (Book)

The King Within - Nandini Sengupta.

I am not much into Historical Fiction but this book came very highly recommended from a dear friend and she told me that this was her friend's debut work hence I had no expectations from it. Also, this is one of those very few books that can very well be judged by its cover as they say "Never Judge a book by its cover" it works totally opposite for this one. As beautiful its cover is, the writing is way more beautiful, a very intriguing account of four friends told in a riveting manner such that I kept asking for more as it ended. Another co-incidence if I may call it is that the story starts from a town called Ujjainy :) that fortunately happens to be my hometown as my parents and siblings still stay there and we visit it twice a year religiously. Also, I did my schooling from an institute which is named after one of the main characters of this book. That was like WOW! I had no idea what I had in store as I started the book. But this book made me realize how hard it is to rewrite a story which is 16 Centuries old, just imagine. One has to take care of so many things, not only the timeline of the story or the characters but the Geography, attire, weapons, what they eat, how they talk, how they fight and so much more. But this one, even after being a debut work does not only full justice to the narrative, it actually sets a standard so high for the Author herself that I will be hooked and waiting eagerly for her other works or you may call a sequel if she ever writes.

Story is set in the year 373 CE and about four main characters. Deva (The Prince and soon to be a king), Virsena (The Warrior), Kalidas (The Poet) and Darshini (a girl they save from savages) and who joins them for the journey called life. Right from the word go, the story is so amazing that I just couldnt put it down and had to finish it in flat 24 hours with a couple of breaks in between. The way they save her and the action which follows sets up the course and she follows them on their journey to Ujjainy. Even the introduction of the prince in the very first chapter, the way it is done and how his identity is revealed actually gave me goosebumps, I had to read the para thrice for that amazingly unbelievable title and his full name. And I realized there was no looking back from thereon. It has its own twists and turns too as it couldnt be that simple as I expected it to be. How it goes forward and the Prince even after having his own past and life, keeps up with Darshini and his friends is a superb tale with so much packed in it. Story the way Author has told is so smooth and transforms from one scene to another brilliantly, from regular fun life to the Kingship is totally amazing. I loved the part Kalidas plays in the story and almost all the Epics that he has written get not only a mention, he actually throws some light on them himself as when he was writing them what all he was going through and even that gels so well with the story , thats totally commendable on Author's part and hats off for the research she must have done to make it that way.

I totally didnt expect that a book with mere 224 pages will pack in so much punch in it. Also, two sequences that I must mention without forgetting is a terrific action sequence between the Prince and his elder brother (not only fighting for the throne but for a lot more), the way the entire sequence is done and the way it ends - it actually reminded me of visuals from "Lord of the Rings", I will not call it an inspiration but if you read it, I am sure you will agree with me that the sword fight and the ending totally reminds you of one important sequence from LOTR and imagination is terrific. Second is another fight sequence towards the end done in full public view, Man! that sent me back in time and reminded me of the "Gladiator" fight, not so much action but the arena that came to my mind was almost as good as that. Hats off to the way it was done in the book, totally Goosebumps moments and that made me wonder if this ever gets made into a movie, it will be a superb watch. I have no doubts on the books historical accuracy too in depicting the times of Samudragupta and the making of Vikramaditya as it is so convincingly and terrifically done. Even the support cast and their own stories are given their own dues and hold up pretty well. I loved the Buddhist, Chinese and SriLankan connections too.

If you have read it, do tell me how you liked it and if you haven't, you've got to read it as soon as you can. Do not miss this epic of a book which is too short to my shock, surprise and pleasure as I never wanted it to end. Pray that the Author does comes out with a sequel as I am really keen to know what happens to the four friends in the end an their next generation :). 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami (Book)

Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami.

This is my Fifth book from Murakami and I can very well now claim that I have actually understood what to expect from him or where exactly his stories are gonna go and end :). First book that started my Murakami journey was of-course "Kafka on the Shore", as I finished it, I decided to take Murakami's works from the first to last. Yes, I am madly in love with his works and the man himself too, I always go nuts like that pretty often on an Author and don't rest till I have finished all his works. Now the book in subject is the fourth of a Trilogy (read Epilogue of the series) which I finished last weekend and still am in its hangover. As I said earlier in my Trilogy reviews (if you cared to read) that this series was special as he refuses to give character names, even the protagonist who is taking the story forward is unnamed. On top of that the series is called the "Rat Trilogy", this guy "Rat" too has no name :) can you believe that. I finished all three and the Epilogue and was desperately looking forward to get at least the names in the end, but did he give out the names? You've got to read the book(s) if not, message me personally I will tell you if he does or does not. But that was one of the so many reasons that kept me hanging to go through the books which made up for superb reading as usually all his books do without fail (so far). As the title suggests this one too gets quite philosophical but never preachy (I hate those preachy types).

Taking the story further forward in the fourth part is our Unnamed Hero in search of multiple things including his Friend who had turned into a Sheep in the last part (or did he die?), his lost Girl Friend who was with him in the pursuit of the Sheep-man (his friend), the vanished Dolphin Hotel where they stay and decode the suspense etc etc. Now he is divorced, out of business, even quits his job as he has enough to survive a year or so longer as he needs to clear the mystery behind the things happening with him. How he goes forward to unravel the mystery or gets into further mysterious circumstances is the final book from the series which I hoped will give me a sort of closure by the time it ends :). Murakami seriously has a very good sense of humor this book proves that as our Hero comes across rather takes care of a teenage girl in this one who father happens to be a guy called "Hiruka Makimura" who is crappy writer, who know one likes in Japan but is a blockbuster hit commercially, plays Golf, is Gay, has left his wife (who is a professional photographer) and pays enough to anyone who can take care of his daughter. How our Hero gets entangled in their life and how his own story gets crisscrossed with all this is the rest of the fantastic story all about. Individually I will say this one is the best of all four parts but one has to read the first three for the fourth to make more sense.

Again, as it is said so many times that Murakami is highly influenced by his western counterparts, this was an easy read as so many movie, music and book references made by him say the same. His books and stories do not talk nothing about Japan or anything to do with Japan but just the names of people (that he does discloses) and places otherwise it could be based anywhere in the world and will make no difference to the narrative. Whatever said and done, fortunately his stories are written in such an engrossing way that I just couldn't put it down as it seems like a never ending chase with so many surprisingly elements cropping here there and everywhere. He actually takes his readers in a kind of trance state too, almost after doing 80% of the book I was asking myself "Could this all be real?" "Is it really happening in the book" or "Has he taken me into a ride again to shock me in the end and give no answers?". Terrific I will say. I so much wish I could disclose anything or a little more but then that would be called a spoiler. Also, as all his books do (I guess), I so much look forward to come across a person who has read this, so I can talk on and on about it. So if you have read this, do let me know if you liked it and if you haven't, I guess its high time that you got the Trilogy and the Epilogue and read them back to back. If you survive in the end, do ping me, I would love to chat with you about the whole experience. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Complete Adventures of Feluda (Part 1) - Satyajit Ray (Book)

The Complete Adventures of Feluda (Part 1) - Satyajit Ray.

Surprisingly, I have (had) read quite a few "on" Satyajit Ray but never one "by" him so far. Blame the availability in the book stores or getting my Kindle too late or may be too few Bengali friends around ;) whatever it may be! Till, I praised Agatha Christie's and Arthur Conan Doyle's works in front of a Hardcore Patriot, that I had read recently finished and also showed him what all I had from them. He just said one thing which got me thinking big time that "You are one of those quite a few Indians who haven't been to Leh - Laddakh but praise Grand Canyon to no end", and I was like "Whats the point dude?". It took me quite a while to actually decode (You see I am no Feluda) but when I got the point, I vowed to not to read a Christie ever till I finish "Feluda" completely. To my shock, amazement and ashamed confession - I even had the first of the two book series already on my Kindle which I picked I guess quite a while ago when it was being sold at a paltry 99/-. But as a true Satyajit Ray fan I have already got the second of the series too, all thanks to a friend who almost has every book that I can think of or at least he can source one at the drop of a hat :) (You know who you are and I love you for that). And am I glad? WHOA! I am super happy to have come across these gems, guys! If you haven't read these yet, you have no idea what you have missed. Although Satyajit Ray claims to have written them for children but no ways, these are too good to be ignored by adults or for that matter anyone who loves thrillers. Supremely clean of Violence, Blood and Gore stuff, it doesn't even have a female character in any of the stories - just imagine.

The Author himself is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and he mentioned the same at the very start in the opening note that he has read all Sherlock Holmes stories when he was a kid himself and the inspiration is quite evident. Not only that I will even say that his works are not in league with Doyle or Christie but the audience that he was catering to, seeing from that angle I can very well say they are not only fantastic but mind-blowing with ample of comic moments to keep one not only engrossed but happy too. The three main characters in all stories are Feluda (The Detective, real name Pradosh C Mitter), his side kick Topshe (Watson, real name Tapeshranjan Mitter - Cousin) and the hilarious Lalmohan Babu without which no story goes any further, who happens to be a B grade thriller writer who writes under the pseudonym "Jatayu", gets all his plots from Feluda and Topshe's adventures. The Adventure stories are written from the perspective of Topshe (a teenager) who sees it all happening in front of his eyes as his cousin Feluda not only takes him and us on the thrilling rides but makes him understand it all too. Among-st the three lead characters my favorite will always be Jatayu, the way he cracks the situation up is simply amazing and always had me in splits, may it be the way he screws it all up or the way he talks, the use of words, his vocabulary which keeps getting better with time and so much more. And of-course my favorite story will always be "The Golden Fortress" not only because I have seen the movie and I could visualize it all but because the way the entire chase and sequence is written that too with Rajasthan as background is simply superb.

In all its a huge collection of Fifteen stories each almost equally good. What is more outstanding is the way he has covered not only Bengal but the other cities and states like Rajasthan, Assam and even Bombay in the stories is superb. They are always travelling, either on a Train, or an Airplane or later half on Jatayu's new acquired car that he buys from his books selling so well :). Solving the cases of Emperor's Ring (a ring from Mughal Era) to solving the cases of Bandits of Bombay, Feluda gets to do it all and in style. From the bylanes of Calcutta to Mumbai, Benares, Lucknow, Gangtok, Darjeeling, Jaisalmer and even on moving trains. How Feluda starts from a mid 20's inexperienced unknown guy next door to a full-fledged very well known Detective almost all across is the book all about. His body language, mannerisms, book that he reads, movies that he watches and what not is simply amazing. For some reason young Satyajit Ray's face kept coming in front of my eyes as I kept reading the Feluda stories. One thing I missed in these stories may be in the first part is that they don't go out of India anywhere. Who knows, may be in the next they get to go out, I so much wished that Feluda at-least gets to go to England once :).

If you have read Feluda's adventures, do let know how you liked them but if you haven't, you exactly know what to do now. As I move on eagerly to the second part to see if Feluda goes out and solves some International cases too. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami (Book)

A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami.
Now, where you do you start to talk about a Murakami book, even that is pretty confusing. As it has been said time and again by so many that his books are either a hit or a miss by a long shot. I fell in love with him, his writing and his amazing characters after reading my first Murakami (Kafka on the Shore) and there was no looking back. Hence picked up his first book (Book 1 of Rat Trilogy) after a friend sent him the fourth book from the series (Epilogue). Imagine he wrote a Trilogy and ended it with a fourth book as an Epilogue. Got me all hooked from the very first one as of-course I predicted and what an amazing journey it had (still has) been. Finished the third book today afternoon and I still do not know what the protagonist's name is or what is the real name of his best friend "Rat" is as he is always referred as the Rat. Or their best buddy's name (called J) who owns a bar and they've been frequenting it from College (first book) to their works (second) and even in third where they are about to hit their 30's. May be because these are the initial books that he wrote hence it is like that but I am having a ball of a time keeping a very keen eye to see if he mentions any names anywhere. The closest I got in this book and almost he had me having a wide grin on my face is when the unnamed protagonists lands in a Hotel and the manager asks him to sign the register :) but he damn well uses a fake name and not his real name. Even his girl friend I shouldn't fail to mention has no name, she is referred as the girl with most beautiful ears, the moment she ties her hair in a pony the world stops revolving and everyone just gets mesmerized by the beauty of her ears and she has some special powers to (read the book to know more).
As I said the third book of the Trilogy and story hasn't gone much ahead. Our hero is now married for four years, his wife walks out on him, he makes a new girl friend (the girl with the beautiful ears), they have moved ahead from their earlier business of translation to advertising, his friend the Rat is gone on a sabbatical location unknown. J has opened a new bar somewhere far. All hell breaks lose in this one (after 50% mark) is when he prints a unique sheep's picture sent by the Rat to him in an advertisement. A super rich man on death bed assigns him of the task to find the Sheep in picture or lose everything he had by not taking up the challenge. What he does next or where his journey takes him in search of the Sheep is the rest of the book but how it all ends is simply terrific (read typical Murakami) still he refuses to give you a closure of sorts as he always does with his books I believe. So many unanswered questions and so many cross connections that I could make out but not sure if they are really there or am I just confused. But there is a silver lining as I now have the fourth book which he wrote as an Epilogue. Guess another 400 pages to satisfy my questions, queries, confusions or the metaphors he has created in these ones so far. I hope that gives me the answers.
As always the case is with any of his books and stories, this too has superb book(s) and music references. It actually did put a wide smile on my face as the books, Authors and quite a few music references are something that I have read and listened too in the recent past and some that I haven't have gone to my "To Be Read" list as always. The western influence on Murakami's writing is pretty much evident I believe this one onward as I plan to go forward with his other works and is damn impressive. He surely knew right from the very start how to keep his audience hooked and to keep em happy at that. Have you read the "Rat" Trilogy? If you have, please tell me that I am going to get that closure by the end of the series, if not, I will say do think before picking this up :). If you like long prose with nowhere going story yet with so many stories thrown in between, do read this series or else stay away.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Jude The Obscure - Thomas Hardy (Book)

Jude The Obscure - Thomas Hardy.
Stern Warning: Do not read this book at any cost. Just don't go by the legendary Author's name for this one and you will save yourself from the worst (or shall I say the best) misery, pain, suffering, gloom, depression, feeling of helplessness, not worthy of a life and a plethora of other sadistic feelings that I am sure you would have not felt yet by reading anyone else's best and last work to say the least. Go no further, don't even read the review just close the window, sit back, relax, close your eyes or go back to whatever you were doing and enjoy your life.
I picked up my first Thomas Hardy book from Blossoms (Bangalore) last month, thinking that I will read it and impress my fellow readers with a neat review on it showcasing that I have finally started reading the terrific books from the Masters of Literature. But that was never to be as a friend (another enemy friend) forced this book down my throat with no warning and just said that I must read this and feel the emptiness that he felt. I wish I had a tenth of his vocabulary the way he had put it in his review that I didn't read full as the very start told me somehow that I was about to read this book. He was kind enough to mail me the book as well. This is one of the longest that I have ever taken to finish a book 14 days. The last longest record a book ever hold for me was "The Fountainhead" guess was close to ten days at the most. Unfortunately this one is the last ever written by Hardy and became one which stirred some kind of storm in the literary circle even back then (some 100+ years ago). Of-course he couldn't have found a better subject as the theme of his story other than "Marriage" that too between two cousins (read same blood), Awesome. What happens next is the darkest and saddest story ever as I said earlier. Jude is one guy that again unfortunately I just couldn't not fall in love with, so much that there were so many times I actually wanted to enter the story and kill him with my own bare hands putting an end to his misery saying "Dude, die please, this world is not for people like you, this world seriously doesn't deserve a noble soul like yours".
Right from his childhood with no parents, no relatives to take care but just an aunt who cared nothing about him but to put him to some-kind of her own work to make some use of his time. He only wanted to read and he does reads a lot of books (this was the happiest part of the story). The only respite in his troubled life was his teacher (Phillotson), who does gives him books to read and some lessons but that too doesn't last long as the teacher moves out to a distant town in search of a better job himself. His next best friend is the visiting physician (Vilbert) who gets him some books that he gorges on and his long lost teacher too sends him some as promised. How the role of teacher and physician changes in due course of life is such irony and unbelievable that I have no words to explain. His only dream is to move himself to a nearby town to get into a University, study and become a somebody other than what he is (a Stonemason). What he does next, how he ends up in the town full of Universities, his eyes shine to see the buildings which call him but the humans inside discard him. Wow!! What beautifully Hardy has captured it all with those amazing words and every sentence is like a gem in itself. That's exactly why it took me so much time to read it rather I will say cherish it the way it was supposed to be. So many times I had to go back n forth to read and re read the whole thing again as it was too amazing to be just read and move on to the next para or page. If you have read any of his earlier works, I am sure you will agree with me as I am assuming he has to be that good in all his stories (dunno if I am going to read anymore of him).
In between how he gets entangled in a rut called life and marriage with his first wife Arabella (I will run out of adjectives) a character that vicious I have never come across in books in last two decades. What happens to their marriage, how he falls out of it and in love with his own long lost cousin is such a beautiful episode of this story that you've got to read the book for (promise me you wont read this book though). But again as this is the story of our man called "Jude (Fawley) The Obscure" as the name suggests, how could he be happy? so tragedy strikes and what happens next just took out the floor below my feet and I had a free fall straight to hell. The big heart Jude, lets his first wife go off her free will when she relocates to Australia in search of a better life, gets married again, settles down, but comes back to trouble him as he falls for his own cousin (Sue), marriage or no marriage they were married to each other (by heart and feelings and love and what not). I believe Jude's only crime is that he is a simple good man with a big heart and is poor. It is so unfortunate and heartening to see how Author plays around with his characters is something that leaves us readers speechless. I really wondered throughout, what must have been going inside Hardy's mind and heart that he came out with this story and developed and ended it this way. There are some reliefs too like Prof. Phillotson who ends up marrying Sue (Jude's cousin and second wife) even after she leaves him in the first place for Jude. I am telling you, it is a very straight forward story yet pretty complicated too.
I know I am not able to do justice to neither the subject nor the book so I will stop here. Coming back to Thomas Hardy, I had this feeling that can it be possible that there is a connection between Jude and Mr. Pip or our own Mr. Devdas from back home (India)? As they are all the stories almost from the same era, is it possible that either of the three Author's have read each others works and have carved out their own characters which are all full of pain, gloom, depression but yet they are with hearts of gold? Great Expectations in 1861, Jude The Obscure in 1895 and Devdas in 1917. Could they be inspiration to each other? I just couldn't help but think that ways. Also, the way Hardy has spoken about the Institute of Marriage is not only controversial, convincing, ironical and kind of opened a Pandora's box. The debate is inevitable as its all covered in Introduction and after the story finishes in the end too in form of his books reviews, opinions, questions which left unanswered and all.
Although I loved Jude from the bottom of my heart, he had my full sympathy, empathy and what not, I so much wished, prayed and imagined that his life will take a good turn somewhere, someone will come and love him the way I wanted him to get loved.... What a man. Hats off to you Mr. Hardy. You've made a fan for life.
PS: And there is a fantastic movie made on this book. That I am going to see this weekend. Beware: If you plan straight to jump to the movie - its gory.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

31 Miles - Vinita Bakshi (Book)

31 Miles - Vinita Bakshi.
My Mom's review. She wrote in pure Hindi and I am trying to translate it to English, although my vocab doesn't do justice to her words but whatever:
I got the opportunity to read the book "31 Miles" by Vinita Bakshi and once I started, just couldn't put it down without finishing it. No doubt this book is so beautifully written that it actually shook some untouched corners of my heart. She has actually uncarved the deep engraved feelings of an Indian woman. Author has actually very well put together and has understood what a woman goes thru and what her struggles, pains, dilemma, confusions are, that commendable and I believe she is a perfect psychologist. Protagonist is a middle aged (45 years), well educated, a mother of two from an upper class family, even then she doesn't remain untouched by something like infatuation at that age and situation is what the book explores. Her husband is a smart, very well placed, caring, loving and a man who will leave no stone upturned in fulfilling her wishes. A simple thing which tells a lot about him is that he actually gets restless and waits for her standing at the terrace the day she gets late to return home from her work. He wouldn't even let her drive their car alone thinking that she may have an accident, just imagine. Even after being married for two decades or more, she still has no idea how much he loves her or she just doesn't understand his love at all.
She always feels that there is something missing in her life, may be those little praises that she expects from him or those little "I love you's" that go missing in the daily rut of life is what gets fulfilled by "Rajan" the new entrant in her run of the mill life. How this new "Online relationship screws up her married life of two decades is the rest of the story. The utter romantic Rajan and his histrionics make her fall head over heels and she just couldn't see anything else. Author has to be praised for the way she has done and covered this delicate turn of events where it never goes out of hands and never feels over done or goes over board. It is actually to her credit the way she has carved out the strong character of the protagonist who still tries to make her lover understand that they are both married with kids and have spouses, still the way it turns out to be is quite shocking yet convincing. But what happens next as well as how it all ends is something you've got to read the novel for. I found the ending to be quite emotional and heart touching, especially the way her "Guru Maa" handles the situation and guides her is simply terrific. The actual depth of the novel and the narrative is its ending part which impressed me to no bounds, it was indeed what the Author wanted her readers to know and understand (I believe).
This book is actually superb for those ever so emotional people who may take a wrong step or two at one point of there life and think that there is no going back. Its a must read especially for those and will be an eye opener who are on the verge of committing a mistake knowingly or unknowingly. This will work like an ultimate guiding light for those lost souls. I will rate and recommend it very high and will call it a must read for all.
PS: I am not sure if my translation does justice to her original review in Hindi. And I got the book back on my rack with this :) so I will be reading it soon myself.