Looking for Love?

September 30, 2011

A look in the past - direction for the future?

One should never look back. It just brings more confusion, more pain and definitely more complexity in life. It also forces you to again evaluate choices which you once made on the spur and have been carrying on for months, sometimes even years. No one gains anything by looking in the dark alleys of the past...with ghosts of insecurity lurking down on you, with weeds of guilt cultivating inside you. It all boils down to nothing. But still more or less, we all subconsciously look back to the past and regret, feel sad and make our life miserable.

Past don't give you a chance to repent, it just washes away whatever courage you have gathered till that time. Still we look back in the hope of changing those little moments when we were happy to make them better, to remove those little things which made us bitter toward others, those moments when we were irrational and acted idiotic, those minutes when we over-reacted to mess up things or did not reacted to avoid picking any fights. But the big question always remains - why we should look back, why force yourself to wallow in misery? Why creating such a mess in the first place itself?

I believe, looking back has also to do with one's comfort level. Rarely we step out of our comfort zone, do something which would challenge ourselves and not be too conscious about what people may say about you. Bonding with your past brings a comfortableness with yourself - you either sit on your laurels and stop reinventing yourself. The end consequences of tinkling with your past is evident in your future and present relationships. Everything in a new relationship goes a notch higher - those little touches to rekindle interest in people, those little nuances to impress people, those extra efforts to make someone feel special. The past remains with us, subconsciously sweeping into our system...gradually ticking away to a erratic present and an even more erratic future. Eventually past gives you a tool to handle future better.

Things change, situations change, people definitely change. But not the human emotions. They have remained the same for centuries and will remain so. We are not robots, we are humans. We are bound to feel the strong urge to look back into the past, to console ourselves of the good things which were once part of our lives. We want to feel stronger in the future thinking about those wonderful moments spent with friends, your loved ones. Those moments of laughter, romance, intimacy and pure bliss gives an unconditional, unspoken strength that is unmatchable. A look in the past is a direction in the future - a future unrelated to the past, yet a close companion.

September 24, 2011

Notes on Amish Tripathi's 'The Immortals of Meluha'

The following book review is done in association with Stack Your Rack

Author: Amish Tripathi
Publisher: Westland Publications

It is always difficult to put down a review for a book which has already been claimed as bestseller having reportedly sold 1,20,000+ copies. But then you got to judge a book by what you read in it, minus the hype and the expectations. That, i believe is the best way to enjoy any book. The Immortals of Meluha, first book in the Shiva Trilogy is a thrilling book. It cleverly intersperse the fact and the fiction, introduces unimaginable mythological and historical characters, and keeps you hooked all the time.

The story takes place in the imaginary land of Meluha and how they are saved from their wars by a nomad named Shiva. It begins with the Meluhan king Daksha inviting tribes to stay at his country, one of them being Shiva's tribe. They soon come to recognize Shiva as their fabled saviour called Neelkanth after he devours a poison which turns his throat blue. Shiva decides to help the Meluhans in their war against the Chandravanshis, who had joined forces with a cursed group called Nagas. However, in his journey and the resulting fight that ensues, Shiva learns how his choices actually reflected who he aspires to be, and how it led to dire consequences.

The plot moves at a brisk pace, most of the characters are well etched out and the reader's attention is never allowed to flag with over-indulgence in any of the plot-points. The romance between Shiva and Sati gives you almost a Bollywood kind of feel but ultimately turns out to be immensely enjoyable. It brings out the human side of Shiva, and it does take time to adjust to his profanities and non-God side.

The book finally ends towards an almost spiritual existence of Shiva, making you reminiscent of Dan Brown's books, same feeling last felt in The Da Vinci Code which postulated Jesus Christ as a human who turned into a God by the virtue of his deeds. A lot has been said about the language of the book where even though story is set in the 19th century BC, the language (with references of weapons of mass destruction and department of immigration thrown in) is truly 21st century A.D. Purists may have a problem with this, but i believe if readers can relate more with the characters due to such nuances, it is absolutely fine.

Finally, the book ends with a lot of promise and a battle about to begin for supremacy. The set-up leaves you wanting more. The second book in the trilogy, The Secret of the Nagas has also been released in Aug 2011. I look forward in reading the same soon.

September 18, 2011

Book Review - 46 : The Summer of Cool

Author: Suchitra Krishnamoorthi
Publisher: Puffin Books

10-year-old Chitrangana, with her innocent eyes and precocious lies, is the despair of her gang of friends at Swapnalok society in downtown Mumbai. All she wants is to grow her hair, have her mother bake her an angel cake, and become a bathroom decorator of repute. But deep down, what she really wants is to find her father.

Meanwhile, there is not a dull moment as the varied, often eccentric residents of Swapnalok society as they go about their lives. Underwear Uncle and Aunty are on their way out, Sita Maami has developed a formula for cola water that the cola company wants to buy from her, there's a dog kidnapper on the loose and Varun Vadola, a charming young bachelor, has moved in next door to Chitrangana. And when Ammama, her batty grandmother, lands up from the villiage, life becomes even more exciting. Then, on her birthday, Chitrangana's sister gifts her Sapna, a doll that looks just like her and speaks words only Chitrangana can hear. Armed with Sapna, she decides to take to the mean streets of Mumbai to look for her father, who will surely set everything right in their lives. Does she finally find her father? And does she find the answers she is looking for?

Part fiction, part fantasy it is one of those kind of books in which you will keep turning pages to make sure something happens, but nothing much happens. The setting is detailed and most of the characters are etched with affection, but still the central conflict is so simplistic it doesn't make much sense when it is finally chased and resolved. Suchitra abundantly uses convenient coincidences when Chitrangana finally sets on in the search of her father.

The book suffers from what is a pervasive problem of first book in a series - author deliberately under develop certain sub-plots and characters to stretch the overall screenplay over few books. In most of the cases, it doesn't work out. It clearly hasn't in this case. To be fair, there are a few portions which are enjoyable. The constant battering about the grandmother, the conversations between Chitrangana and the doll along with her musings towards her unknown father.

I am going with 2/5 for Suchitra Krishnamoorthi's 'The summer of Cool'. It is one of those kind of books which gets published because you happen to be a celebrity. After a mediocre acting and singing career, one can safely say it is a mediocre start to the writing career as well.

The second book in the series - The Good news Reporter has also been released.

September 9, 2011

Book Review - 45 : A Waiting Wave

Author: Kulpreet Yadav
Publisher: Cedar Books

When Harry decides to move away from his wife Kareena, to faraway Port Blair, he is hoping the distance would blur the differences the two have acquired after marriage. But it is not to be. Gloomy, tired and already a pessimist, he is boating in a bay close to his father's house, when a catastrophe strikes – a tsunami. In the face of a sure death, Harry realises how shallow his expectations from the marriage have been. He wakes up later, alive, but where he shouldn't be – in the Island of the Sentinelese, a violent Negrito tribe, still in the stone-age. From Delhi, Kareena rushes to Port Blair and begins her search. As they near one another, both sick and wounded, the mistakes they have committed dance on their retinas.

Will the spirit of their love triumph over the impossibility of the terrain they are up against? Will the newly realised depth of their bond and the expanse of their love bail them out?

A waiting wave is a story which most of us can relate to - a hot-headed, impatient man and a submissive, professional woman. Their differences, deliberations and desperation in continuing this relationship form the basic core of the narrative. However, with constant switching back from present to past, the author does not allow you to emotionally invest in the characters. The author fails to bridge the gap between the characters and the audience, there is certain unexplained distance that never lets you feel the "pain" of the lead couple. It is book written with noble intentions, but one never feel sorry or happy for any of them....something which, in my opinion is essential for any good love story.

What is different and engaging are the portions where Harry encounters the tribals of Andaman Islands. These adventures of Harry with the tribal people brings in a refreshing change from the monotonous main track of the lead couple. We are exposed to a host of various plot points at this time in the narrative - the savage Sentinelese tribe, deadly salt-water crocodiles, the blood sucking leeches, the rampant malarial mosquitoes, abandoned British mansions and the ghosts in the bunkers of world war 2. All this, even though interesting to read, is buried under too much non-linear narrative style and ultimately, fails to enthuse any empathy with the characters. Yes, we are exposed to beautiful Andaman islands... but what would have worked far better for the book is a beautiful love story as well.

I am going with 2.5/5 for Kulpreet Yadav's second book, 'A waiting wave'. There is an inherent sincerity attached to the book but there are too many awkward pauses, cringing dialogues and logical loopholes for my liking. Read it for the lyrical descriptions of Andaman, if not for the love story.

September 4, 2011

Notes on Chetan Narula's 'Skipper' - A definitive account of India's Greatest Captains

This book review has been published in association with Rupa Publications and Bookrack.

Author: Chetan Narula
Publisher: Rupa Publications

When it comes to cricket, the billions living in this county all stand united. They may have strong opinions about some player’s performance, varying opinions and heated arguments about the game-but in the end, all that matters is an Indian win. The sheer numbers that follow cricket in India also highlight the amount of pressure on the player who leads the team onto the field. No wonder it is often said that the Indian cricket captain’s job is probably the most important profile after that of the prime minister himself!

Through careful thought, in-depth research and detailed discussions, this book discusses ten captains in detail, as cricketers and captains, describing the various tours they played on, their wins and losses, selectors they had to contend with, superstars in their team, their personal battles and downfall, et al, while the rest have also been keenly talked about. There is also a special thought on current skipper MS Dhoni to foresee which direction Indian cricket may take. All this, presented in a manner different from any other cricket book yet.

Foreword by Australian author, commentator and former cricketer Peter Roebouck, Skipper pan out the career sketches of 10 most successful and charismatic Indian cricket captains. Chetan Narula, who has worked with leading cricketing websites and magazines take this opportunity to delve into the psyche of persons who has led a cricket-mad nation over the past 5 decades.

My most basic problem here is that at the end of 700 odd pages, it is difficult to fathom whom this book is aimed at. The casual cricket fan will miss most of the real-match references, unable to connect to any of the in-jokes and will feel anguished over the sheer length of various chapters. The more informed fans (like me!) will find most of the references either out-dated or repetitve having watched and read about cricket day-in-and-day-out over past 20 years.

My conclusion has nothing to do with the quality of writing, but the fact that here the target audience seems misplaced, resulting in spoon-feeding with match details which could have been avoided or at least shortened. Each chapter stays on for too long, stretching the book to unmanageable proportions. And as it most often happens, it will become a coffee table book rather than a book which could have piqued or rekindled your interest in the game.

But this should not take away anything from the research and skills put in the book. There are compelling arguments by author to justify the choice of selection of captains. Each of the captain's tenure is validated not only by facts and figures but by intelligent, deep interpretation of magic cricketing moments. All this is provided with an emotional quotient of an Indian fan who has always embraced this game of cricket and treated the players as demi-gods.

Some of my most favourite anecdotes from the book are as follows (Interestingly, you will realise how all of them have happened in India-Australia Test matches!!):
  • How Sachin and Dravid, otherwise gentleman cricketers irked Steve Waugh constantly during 2001 Aus-India test series by constantly asking, "Hey Steve, how is the final frontier looking?"
  • How Sunil Gavaskar got infuriated during 1981 series after being taunted by Dennis Lillee and asked Chetan Chauhan to walk away to the pavilion.
  • The famous, yet hidden stories of the infamous 2008 Monkey-Gate Syndey test and Anil Kumble's typical gentleman defiance in handling the proceedings.
  • The thrilling 1987 Tied test against Australia in Chennai, the emotions of Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh, latter of which was the last man to be out in the Indian innings.
There are many more such instances to be savoured in this book. It is not a one-day read, but will keep you hooked till you are patient with it. Cricket fans will definitely gain something from this bold and telling account of Indian cricket over last 50 years.