Looking for Love?

February 27, 2012

Book Review - 72 : Faceless

Author: Tapan Ghosh
Publisher: Frog Books

The blurb on the book says 'soon to be made into a motion picture'. If i meet the producer tomorrow morning, i would advise him to stay away from this one and save some money. Faceless by Tapan Ghosh is a mixture of everything, yet nothing. The story line is as dead as the dildo in the bin, which incidentally is the starting point of the story. This particular plot point is used mainly as a shock reference and does not compensate in any way for the monotonous tone or an overdose of philosophy and wisdom in the narrative.

Embarrassed about mistaking a vibrator for a bomb, the anti terror squad go looking for its owner. This silly piece then proceeds to introduce each of the characters, Khush, Shom, Swapna, Natasha and Sara in a sequential way each having a back story to bank upon. Things get interesting when Raima meets Shom. They are mutually attracted, fall in love and at last find their true soul mates in each other! Their sensual and passionate love is the crux of the story. Will their love survive the test of time? Or will they desert each other?

Lying solely on sexual innuedos and two-faced jokes, it is hardly original writing and heavily borrows from those American sit-coms. Alas, if it was even half as entertaining, it would have made my reading day. The plot is clumsy, punctuated with awkward scenes and cringing dialogues and even the transition between the various plot points is hardly seamless. Even the climax, inspired from a Class-A recent Bollywood thriller is also a cop-out and does not engage you enough to forget it flaws.

The constant 'i wanna be cool' repartee and expletive-laden language gets boring after a while, mainly because each of them is followed by a half-baked, unconvincing plot point that clearly stretches your imagination to absurd regions. It is not a hard read, pacing is fast and language lucid; but you can't compensate for something as basic as a storyline in such a quick metro read.

I am going with 1.5/5 for Tapan Ghosh's 'Faceless'. Save your face, stay away from reading it. There are many good things to do in life, reading this one is definitely not one of them.

February 26, 2012

Life is what you make it...

If you win you're a genius, and if you lose you're a dunce. Isn't, it? The life is all about achievements, overcoming challenges, making and spending money. Is life actually so one-dimensional or we allow ourselves to snuggle into a world of comfort. A world where your life becomes not just monotonous, but meaningless. A world where things are on hold, still you can't make heads and tails of it.

Life is tough, but then who said it is going to be easy. It was never meant to be and it never will be. Overcoming difficult situations ultimately becomes part of life, part of the system, part of you as an individual. There is no fun in having things on the platter or not struggling to have things going for you. Things in life should not come easy, you lose the meaning of trying hard for success.

You got to understand that in life most people are well intentioned, world is fundamentally and essentially a good, rather great place to live in. There are too many good things to explore, to find, to observe that there can be any negativity allowed in life. If things don't work out on time, they will in long run. They have to work out, they deserve to work out if you persevere long.

Life is what you make it, life is what we think we can make it, life is what we should make it and we will make it. Life is too short for fights, too small for prejudices and too long for keep making love. Grab the chances, they will be less but surely there will be. To keep moving, inch by inch, column by column. You will get there. One day, some day, in this life.

February 22, 2012

Notes on Dhiraj Kumar's 'The Asocial Networking'

Author: Dhiraj Kumar
Publisher: Wordizen Books

Rating: 3/5

The Asocial Networking by Dhiraj Kumar is nothing but a BIG over-reaction on the impact of social networking (specifically Facebook) on our lives. It does make some pertinent points about the facade people put by showing an alternate 'online' life to others but goes overboard in the analysis and infuses a spirit of outlandishness that in the end harms the book far more you can think off.

It is interesting and ironical to see ourselves socializing with the help of gadgets when we could actually step forward and socialize with the person standing next to us. For the benefit of those who exhibit their social lives online, this book offers little tricks of the trade to master the art of networking and garner tangible gains in the real world. On the other hand, the author discusses our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, which are often reflected in the way we socialize on the web.

However, the extreme or negative side of the social networking is written with heavy-hand and does not presents a balanced approach to counter the positives. For instance, the author constantly harps about the fact that putting a status message of 'DND' on Gtalk reeks of hypocrisy and double standards. Because if you are so busy, why would you be online? But at the same time, author does not take into account that being online have also to do with professional work or an emergency issue.

I was particularly offended at various points in the book where the author judges people around him with disdain and contempt. At one point in the narrative, he even classify bisexuals as extreme perverts and voyeurs who venture out in night on social networking and prey on people. Such kind of factually incorrect, close-thinking and morally reprehensible thoughts should have been censored in the first place if there was a good editor working on this book.

Even the extremely implausible clause of Facebook getting extinct or less exciting in few years in nothing but a statement made without any solid evidence. Anyone who follows these social networking websites knows that these companies earn revenues through advertising and marketing of various companies, brands and products. To view them mere as dating or sex-mating sites is doing a grave injustice to their whole existence and as a tool of usefulness in our daily lives.

Having said that, the author does make some key observations about Facebook in our existence - people wasting time playing Zynga games, low productivity and less concentration at  workplaces, too many diversions in the name of updating status and answering wall posts and my personal favourite - sexual discrimination against men on these websites. These are well thought off points which shows depth with which things are researched. I particularly liked the concept about FIPRA - Facebook International People Rating Agency, something which you may think in the future coming into action to compare people. The clause of displaying your Facebook profile at the time of an interview for a psychoanalysis assessment is a possibility which may not be far off.

In the end, the book is articulated with some well-researched points and keenly observed thoughts. I just wished it was more balanced to enjoy it even further. If you can deal or be comfortable reading ONLY negative impact of Facebook, this book may be a treat for you.

February 17, 2012

Book Review - 71 : Tamasha in Bandargaon

 Publisher: Tranquebar Press
Author: Navneet Jagaanathan

In the fictional suburb of Bandargaon, tucked away in Bombay, there's never a quit moment. Dreams erupt, hopes shatter, in the heaving Sunrise Apartments, by a rickety tea-cart-Jinias Chai Hause, inside a seedy Jaanam Desi, and by the dilapidated Purana Qila. Chagan, the dashing hero, who shines like a film-star, spends hours wooing a beauteous Shalini. Shalini, ever fickle, oscillates between him and a pining Vinayak. Vinayak, in turn, tries desperately to win the favour of Shalini's mother, Lakshmibai. Elsewhere, the local politician, Sajjanpur, tries winning an impossible election; Miranda, a sullen mortician, seeks answers from an ailing priest; and Sultan, the irascible grocer contents with an overfriend dog.

Tamasha in Bandargaon has brought R. K. Narayan-esque humour back.
The residents of this town go through a mad medley of emotions that test every inch of their moral fiber. The troubles and travails of the people in the slum, the strange quirks and stupidities of the people in the apartment, the never say die spirit of the folks who run the gambling den and the tea stall; all this add up to a pacy narrative which is touching and makes you think about life and its eccentricities. The author touches every chord of the regular people like me and you - be their social, personal, professional, financial or emotional lives.

Jagannathan is wise in touching upon varied subjects, like politics — in the form of the firebrand politician Sitaram Sajjanpur of the National Workers Party whose sole aim is to be voted to power — to personal loss, like that faced by Lakshmibai’s childhood friend Geeta who did not have the gumption to take her romance with the temple pujari to the next level.

Of course, the book is all about people and a a whole gamut of emotions - jealousy, politics, joys and sorrows, ups and downs and trials and tribulations, it all adds up. The story proceeds with the plots woven somewhat detached, yet connected and completely coherent. There is a constant presence of the element of humour all through the book, that is simple, yet powerful. The novel essentially is a collection of stories on characters that belong to the same milieu, it does get a tad repetitive and over-the-top at some places. The 13 chapters become 13 different stories of various people in the town and the transitions between these chapters could have been more seamless. Despite this, the novel is an honest and successful attempt at highlighting our idiosyncrasies as a people.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Navneet Jagannathan's 'Tamasha in Bandargaon'
. It's a confident debut by the author and i hope to read more in this genre. Going by the climax and the potential of the story, it will be worth to create a sequel to this one. But surpassing the quality of this one will be a major challenge. Do give it a shot, it is worth your time.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

February 13, 2012

Book Review - 70 : Navrasa by Lotus

Author: Rajiv Kumar
Publisher: Frog Books

'Navarasa by Lotus' tells interlinked stories of a fading movie star; a youth accidentally taking form of a masked vigilante; a mosquito determined to fight human domination; an unmarried couple on the verge of break up; a woman who is terrified of her dream; a school kid struggling to vent his anger; Fate of our society post 2012; Rajiv's addictions; and Anand's redemption... The result is a collection of nine stories of different genres, each being a tribute to the rasa: humour, love, disgust, heroism, wonder, fury, horror, peace and compassion. These nine stories are interwoven with recurring characters and situations. There are surprises galore in each of the stories but it does take time to get used to that 'recurring factor' in each of them.

I particularly liked 'Mutiny' in which rebellious mosquito is determined to devise ways to combat humans. With interesting name conventions and a tight narrative, this is the best story of the lot. T20 had an interesting premise and delves with human relationships effectively though the grammatical mistakes were too high to ignore. 'Loop' is another intriguing story in which girl is entangled in a specific loop on a specific day at a specific point in life. 'Redemption' link all these stories together, and even though it is the shortest it is probably the most important story in the book. The idea of having connecting all the stories by a single link is not new, but is done intelligently enough to draw your interest.

I am going with generous (2+0.5=) 3/5 for Rajiv Kumar's 'Navrasa by Lotus'. Look beyond the repetitions in certain portions of the stories and judge them at an individual level. Each of them has a good heart beating inside and deserves your attention. Read it with no expectations, and probably you will not be disappointed.

February 11, 2012

Book Review - 69 : Along the Way

Author: TGC Prasad
Publisher: Rupa Publications

The hero, Venkat, joins NIT, Kozhikode and makes friends with a few of his classmates. After completing their education, the group of friends enter the competitive world of TCS, Bengaluru. Venkat has to deal with a demanding boss and the complicated workings of office politics. Romance blossoms and Venkat and his batchmate, Anjali, fall in love. Venkat begins to enjoy his job, makes friends at the workplace and finds his life moving along at an exciting pace. But relationships change their course, certain shocking events create rifts between friends – nothing goes as planned and Venkat and his friends look for ways to negotiate the roadblocks that crop up in their professional and personal lives. Anjali’s parents need a lot of convincing about the fact that Venkat is a potential son-in-law. Venkat hatches a strategy to cozy up to them and prays hard to his mother’s favourite deity so he can marry the love of his life.

'Along the way' captures the nuances of software industry competently and effectively, specially when it comes to detailing of the complex projects, strict deadlines, pressure on relationships, peer learning and conflicts. The tone is strictly young, hip and trendy and even though it does get monotonous after a while it still keeps you on engaged with the twists and turns. In the end it is a standard Bollywoodish coming-of-age and finding your own dream kind of a story but keeps you in the spirits with an affectionate romance between the lead couple and camaraderie among the friends.

Having read dozens of similar-sounding campus novels in the recent times, it was refreshing to see some real situations and dialogues poured in the first half of the book when the story is set in the engineering college. The interaction scenes between the Project manager/HR head and Venkat even though teetering on melodramatic moments and over-the-top sensibilities allows you to smile once in a while. I particularly liked the scene in which Venkat and friends get caught in a tangle having called 911 inadvertently on an onsite visit to US. Even the whole SRK calling Anjali's mom in a well-planned and executed strategy is far fetched from reality but at least packs in an emotional punch.

The only letdown is that it is damn too predictable and familiar. In fact, the prologue just withers away the whole story and the climax and you are just waiting to see how it will eventually unfold. The sub-plot involving the trivia questions with Venkat by the Colonel is repetitive to the point of boring. It appears so many times by the end of the book that it loses the initial charm. Even the hugging act to Raj seems forced on so many times that it grates on your nerves. There are stereotypes abundant here; with nagging parents, bunch of chaddi-buddies, evil managers and a sexy girl-friend. In fact, most of the characters in the TCS which were introduced with great detail right in the induction phase of Venkat are left in between with hardly anyone making a great impression to be remembered after you have put down the book. Even the interesting bits of Godfather has been quoted so many times it hardly makes a difference in the end.

I am going with 2.5/5 for TGC Prasad's 'Along the Way'. It is warmhearted and witty and captures the nuances of human relationships and workplace dynamics with ease. If it was a little shorter, better edited and less predictable, it would have been a much more rewarding read. If you are looking for a light fiction, it is not a bad away to spend a Saturday Night.

February 6, 2012

Notes on Priya Kumar's 'The Perfect World'

Author: Priya Kumar
Publisher: Embassy Books

Rating: 3.5/5

A job cannot be mistaken for one's life purpose. A purpose is something you would do even if you didn't get paid for it. A job is a necessity. A purpose is your own drive for contribution. A job is something you do, even if you do not want to do it. A Purpose is something which you do because you want to do it.

Above lines from Priya Kumar's 'The Perfect World' encapsulates briefly how one should view job and purpose of your life, in turn distinguishing between personal and professional life but still making most of both of them. This is the story of Niki Sanders, who while still struggling to find meaning and purpose in life, is approached with an offer to be part of a planet called 'The Perfect world'.

She is living an ordinary life laden with fear-loaded dreams, demanding relationships, a dissatisfying job, a bitter attitude and ever eluding aspirations. In a desperate attempt to seek clarity, courage and confidence, she unwittingly leads herself into meeting with two evolved souls from across the universe. These superior souls belong to "The Perfect World" and with them Niki embarks on the most thrilling adventure of her life; an adventure into infinite possibilities and self discovery.

This part self-help book, part magic realism fiction takes you on a journey into the universe but also on a parallel journey within. Sprinkled with wisdom, the story urges you towards choices of power, passion and purpose in your daily actions leading towards spiritual awareness and spiritual greatness. The writing was crisp, editing tight and even though it is over 300 pages old, it rarely drags on.

I am not a great fan of self-help literature but once in a while comes a book which makes you change your outlook towards this genre. It provides nuanced writing, is interspersed with magic realism to keep the narrative interesting with anecdotes. Read it when you feel low in life and you will enjoy it even more!