Friday, March 29, 2013

Life Is Always Aimless

Life is Always Aimless.......
Unless You love It
by Ratnadip Acharya

Paperback, 216 pages
Published: January  2013
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
ISBN: 9789380349831

Blurb: Do we you really know how much courage is required to listen to our own heart? 

Meet Akash, an young engineer, who dreams of becoming a writer. But all his works meet with is rejection from publisher. Will he ever be rewarded for listening to his heart? 

Smitten by wanderlust, adventurous Sandip does not care much about career, marriage or making a family. How will life treat him for listening to his heart? 

Possessor of a charming personality, Chirag, has a deep penchant for women. But deep down the motherless Chirag is terribly lonely. What is in store for this vulnerable young man? 

Maria Fernandez is a lonely and a less-than- looking young girl who firmly believes that possessing a tender heart is enough to make her world beautiful. Will ruthless life shatter her belief? 

As their life got seamlessly inter-wined with many others they realized that Life is Always Aimless .... Unless You Love it.

I’d been closing on reviewing once I got this book to review. Supposedly, my last one at that time, I accepted it with open arms.

The book starts with a bunch of people staying at a hostel for the new recruits of ICL. Away from home, and adjusting with multitudes of people and ideologies, this book divulges us into the different stories of a group of these people.

The cover of the book with the shades of violet, blue and lavender, a reader like me would be instantly attracted to it. But, I felt a little lack of detail in the design which might prove to be a down for the mass market buyers. The billboard of the book might attract some, while some will just pass the glance over it. Nevertheless, the cover is in sync with the plot.

A wonderful thing about Ratnadip Acharya is that he hasn’t just followed the trend. Yes, we do have engineers in it, but it is beyond the contemporary Indian fiction we find in the market. Ratnadip Acharya has thought out of the box, leaving aside banal conversations and unnecessary intimacies. The plot, compared to the rest of the contemporaries in the market, is serious and mature. It is a daring step enough in itself for defying the trends doesn’t work all the time.

Though the story is fine, but a little hindrance to successfully finishing the book would be its slower pace. The plot moves excessively slow, especially in the first half. By the time it picks up momentum about after half of the book, the reader might as well have stopped reading much before it. I found certain parts of the chapters quite unnecessarily having a place in the text, while they technically contribute very little to the main plot of the story. At such point, the story seems to just drag a little.

The language of the book is lucid. The text is in cohesion and the descriptions and POV’s are well taken care of. The chapters, if could have been a little less longer, would’ve provided a breeze to the flow of the book. The book stands by its title until the end of it, which wins it another plus point.

The other things that should’ve been taken care of are the sudden introduction of a village of characters right in the first chapter. If you read one chapter today, and the next tomorrow, you might even forget the who’s who of the book, until ofcourse, you get used to it.

Above all, the book stands upto the expectations and has a nice rhythm to it. If you are to spend a lazy weekend this week, have a buy at Ratnadip Acharya’s Life is Always Aimless.

I wish Mr. Acharya all the best with the book.

Our Moon Has Blood Clots

Our Moon Has Blood Clots :
The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits
by Rahul Pandita


Hardcover, 256 pages
Published on: January 22nd  2013
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 9788184000870

Blurb:  Rahul Pandita was fourteen years old in 1990 when he was forced to leave his home in Srinagar along with his family, who were Kashmiri Pandits: the Hindu minority within a Muslim majority Kashmir that was becoming increasingly agitated with the cries of ‘Azadi’ from India. The heartbreaking story of Kashmir has so far been told through the prism of the brutality of the Indian state, and the pro-independence demands of separatists. But there is another part of the story that has remained unrecorded and buried. Our Moon Has Blood Clots is the unspoken chapter in the story of Kashmir, in which it was purged of the Kashmiri Pandit community in a violent ethnic cleansing backed by Islamist militants. Hundreds of people were tortured and killed, and about 3,50,000 Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes and spend the rest of their lives in exile in their own country. Rahul Pandita has written a deeply personal, powerful and unforgettable story of history, home and loss

After having read and loved Basharat Peer’s memoir on Kashmir- Curfewed Night four years ago, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Rahul Pandita’s Our Moon Has Blood Clots when I heard about it. And the young Kashmiri in me never lets go any opportunity to know of the times my land and its people have gone through.  
The book, Our Moon Has Blood Clots, as the blurb says is a memoir of a young Kashmiri Pandit, who was forced to leave his land, his home- Kashmir in the turbulent times of 1990. It was the time, as Pandita says in the book, when people would say that they’d collect the next ration in Pakistan. The time people saw Azadi at the threshold. The time insurgency had set its foot in the land of Kashmir too strongly. The time when most of the Kashmiri Pandits had to leave everything behind and find a safer place for their lives.

The book, primarily tells a heart wrenching tale of these Kashmiri Pandits. By giving us the details of his firsthand experiences, he explains the wrath the community had to face in general, here in Kashmir and out of it. It explains how the situation compelled the Pandits to leave the valley and how after being disowned in Kashmir, they weren’t even accepted in Jammu, a place they had eventually pinned all their hopes to. No doubt the memories of the city leave a bitter taste in the writer’s mouth, or for that matter any Pandit who was looked down upon by the native Jammuites. After more than twenty years of the exodus, the Pandits might have even left Jammu and got virtually settled in the other parts of the world, they still long for the feel of home, of Shahar, of the land they belong, of Kashmir. It is important to mention that the writer also talks of the Pandits who still live in Jammu due to a multitude of circumstances, of the families that chose to stay in the valley when everyone was leaving, and the ones who decided to come back after some time.

The thing that you notice right from page one is that Pandita has written the book marvellously. Though a memoir, it reads like a novel. Days ago I was saying that I hated books without many dialogues, and days later I loved reading Our Moon has Blood Clots. Even for the ones who aren’t much into nonfiction, the book will keep them gripped. The beauty and mastery with which Pandita has put together the pieces is absolutely worth applause.

Though, I could identify with many a thing Pandita says in his book, there were certain things that found it too hard to sink in. One of these, and a major one, is that it shows the Muslims in Kashmir as utterly lecherous and lascivious, giving a truly very wrong concept about them to the people who live outside the vale. This hit me right at the moment he talks of a speech made by Indira Gandhi in Srinagar and the ‘completely indecent’ acts the men did to show their disrespect. I found it too hard to believe this fact, even if it is a fact, I doubt. He also says that the guys of his locality, just as the exodus was taking place, were eying their houses and their women. I might even  believe the former, but the latter would still take time to sink in. The thing that seemed absolutely laughable was the point where he says that one of these very guys at the very moment, did some actions, imagining to rape a girl of one of the houses they eyed and then having an orgasm! Come on Mr Pandita, you were just a fourteen year old at the moment! I still wonder, if even in today’s Kashmir a fourteen year old would know what an orgasm is. This was the point I felt that Pandita might truly have fictionised the reality to some extent. Or, the science is absolutely correct saying that memory can easily get distorted.

Talking of memory, if we compare the Our Moon Has Blood Clots with Curfewed Night, the major difference is that Basharat Peer doesn’t just dwell on his memory. He gives us every little detail of how he gathered the facts that he puts before us in the book, on his re-visit to Kashmir. While as Rahul Pandita just keeps the facts in front of us, not telling us anything about where he got them from. As a neutral reader, without knowing the source of the information, I find it hard to figure out which one to believe.

One last thing that I didn’t like about the book is that it pictures almost the entire Muslim community of the valley as villains. I know the Pandits had faced a lot at the hands of the black sheep of the community and it would naturally make the Pandits hostile to the whole lot of Muslims here. But once you’re writing a book, and picture the entire community as bad, I think it isn’t justified. It is as if he’s taken out the frustrations of a fourteen year old against the community in the book.

Overall, the book is totally worth your time. It is filled with emotions. By the end of the book, your heart will ache for a long time if you read it as an unbiased reader. But sadly, you wont know how much of it is truth. Which I believe, must not be a great much. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dear John

Dear John
Nicholas Sparks
Paperback,  335 pages
Published on:  December 01, 2009
Publisher:  Little Brown Book Group  
ISBN:  9780446567336   


Blurb:  When John met Savannah, he knew he was ready to turn over a new leaf. Always the angry rebel, he had dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life. Then he meets Savannah. The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty.

What neither realizes is that 9/11 will change everything; prompting John to re-enlist and fulfill what he feels is his duty to his country and fellow soldiers. And, sadly, as so often happens when lovers are young and separations are long, Savannah falls in love with someone else. 'Dear John . . . ' the letter reads, and both their lives are changed forever.

Years later, when John returns to North Carolina, he must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still the only one for him. Now John must make the hardest decision of his life.

I had come across Nicholas Sparks accidentally after getting my hands on his marvelously written book, A Bend in the Road. After I was mesmerized by the tale telling capabilities of Sparks, I immediately added him to the list of my most favourite authors.
There is one more thing that Nicholas Sparks owes the credit for in my life – my affinity to the Romance genre of Fiction. I won’t have been a lover of Contemporary Romance novels had it not been Dear John, A Bend in the Road, The Last song and of course, The Notebook.
Dear John, is undoubtedly my most favourite Sparks novel. The story of a cop of the US Army- John Tyree, and the love of his life- Savannah.
John has come on a leave from his army camp, when he meets Savannah at a beach. Savannah is in North Carolina on her vacations, volunteering in building houses for the poor. Though he sees her a couple of times, he doesn’t get enough dime from Savannah until he fetches her bag that falls in the water.
This book is filled with emotions. You will feel love, hatred, envy, longing, desperation, heart ache and everything you can think of getting from a perfectly emotion packed novel. This book gave me one of the best emotional experiences I have ever had reading a book. And THAT is what makes it one of my most favourite books.
The characters of John, Savannah, Tim, John’s father - Mr. Tyree are all extremely well drawn. While I was absolutely empathetic towards John, I developed a love-hate relationship with Savannah.
Many people say that they totally detested Savannah, but I don’t think she’s that detestable. The novel was very, very realistic. If we see it from John’s point of view, Savannah might be a bitch. But see it from Savannah’s perspective. I think it is only in idealistic situation that Savannah won’t leave John. But whatever she does, was quite natural for any other girl to do. Had I been in her place, I would have done the same. Savannah, I totally understand your situation.
The dialogues in the book are very realistic as well. Some of them will take your breath away. Even though it has been two years, I still remember many of the dialogues and monologues of the book by heart. They’ll remain etched in it for eternity.
The only think that made this book lose a star is that Nicholas Spark has downed his writing style a great deal. It was as if a teenager has written the book. Or a na├»ve man in his twenties. Although it was in first person’s voice, the voice of John Tyree, but I still didn’t like the difference I noticed between Sparks’ writing style in A Bend in the road or The Notebook and Dear John. It seems as if a completely different person has been hired to pen down this one.
But, people, if you want to read a marvelous piece of Contemporary Romance,, I recommend Dear John. You will love it!

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