Looking for Love?

December 29, 2012

Book Review - 107 : Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas

Author : Madhuri Banerjee
Publisher : Penguin Metro Reads

Kaveri, the protagonist of the novel, is a 29-year-old, who is soon turning 30. She is a single woman who is in search of her true love that has eluded her this far. She is an interpreter by profession and has mastered seven languages. She has read many books on men and how to land a date, yet she struggles to find a perfect partner. Her friend Aditi, who is quite experienced in terms of love and relationships, offers to help her by arranging dates for Kaveri.

After a slew of unsuccessful dates, she does finally end up in a relationship, which is kind of ephemeral with the man, but true and eternal with her own self. The plot of the novel progressively moves from Kaveri being a lonely 30-year-old single woman, who is going through the roller coaster ride of a romantic relationship, to her discovering her own individuality.

This is one clit-lit (oops, chick-lit) which is almost done correctly. Kaveri may not be the best central character you will read this year, but she grows on you. Living in a sexually repressed environment, she gradually learns to live on her own terms in a relationship, even though it takes her multiple attempts (and sex sessions!) to just get it right. The story resonates with the lives of quite a few modern Indian women – who in the quest to make it big in their careers give no space to “love” as such and end up satisfying their mere sexual needs with different partners, only to realize sooner or later that “love” cannot be ruled out of life.

Such kind of mass Indian fiction within realms of Chic-lit obviously comes with its own limitations. Why even after living in Mumbai and being 30, she can't find one single decent man? And when she does, she almost experiments to sleep with all of them. You can attribute that to the sexual experimentation phase Kaveri is going through, but in the end it just poses some unconvincing questions.

I am going with 3/5 for Madhuri Banerjee's 'Losing my Virginity and other dumb ideas'. The book has a cynical tone on love, sex and relationships and one of the main reasons why it resonated with me. You may have a polarizing view on the central protagonist but in the end the fact that you invoke strong emotions about her is what works in the favour of the book. Give it a shot, you will not be entirely disappointed.

December 22, 2012

Book Review - 106 : Jack Patel's Dubai Dreams

Author : P.G. Bhaskar
Publisher : Penguin Metro Reads

Jaikishan Patel belongs to a traditional Gujarati family but follows his passion, stepping into the glamorous, jet-setting world of investment and private banking. Jai is soon transformed into Dubai-based ‘Jack’ Patel, a hugely successful financial advisor in an American brokerage house. His life seems like a dream come true. He cracks a whopping million- dollar revenue target, receives an indecent proposal from a client’s wife and even manages to keep up with the latest Bollywood item numbers to impress the girl who is tugging at his heart. But just when life seems perfect, recession hits the world economy. And right before Jack’s eyes his world begins to fall apart . . . Will he lose the love of his life too? Or will things look up in the end?

Going by the author interviews, the book is a semi-autobiographical account of writer's own experiences during a recession hit market and how his own professional career in wealth management took a nosedive. Written in those dark days, it provided him a breather from the quotidian activities at the work desk. It is an uncomplicated tale of the complexities of life.

The financial jargon is kept to a minimum to avoid cramming in brains for the lay man. The pacing is brisk, editing relatively tight and the narrative moves forward without too many plot spoils. However, it does not take away from the fact that there is such flat tone to the whole story that you are left wondering being in a finance induction program. The author monotonously takes you to the whole recession episode and that's where you feel let down. There are splashes of humour and irony but in the end context, they are few and far in between.

However, the book actually is far away from the trash. The way writer builds up the psyche of Jack with his clients is commendable and an endearing quality emerges for him among the difficult situations. The writing is contemporary and will remind of your own professional situations, something which you can relate to. He is authentic in the portrayal of gamut of emotions - anger, anxiety, irritation, hopelessness and depression.

I am going with 2.5/5 for P.G. Bhaskar debut novel, 'Jack Patel's Dubai Dreams'. The book is written in deathly serious tone and there are very few moments of relief.  Read it if you want to explore a new world of  wealth management domain in the financial industry.

December 15, 2012

Book Review - 105 : Circle of Three

Author : Rohit Gore
Publisher : Grapevine

The Circle of Three is the story of three people who have lost all hope in life. One day, their paths cross and their destinies are forever changed.

Thirteen year old Aryan Khosla has no friends, rarely meets his busy and quarrelling parents, and is tormented by a gang of school bullies. He feels his birth was a mistake and thinks no one would notice if he disappeared from this world.

Thirty-three year old Ria Marathe, a successful scriptwriter, lost her husband and only son in a terrible accident, and later came to know her childhood sweetheart husband was cheating on her for a long time. Faced with a lifetime of misery, she has decided to commit suicide.

Sixty-three year old Rana Rathod, a long forgotten author, has carelessly lived off the trust created by his wealthy family and feels betrayed by his two children who sided with his wife during their brutal divorce thirty years back. He fears he is going to die a bitter man.

Will Aryan lose his childhood to his loneliness? Will Ria lose her life to her tragedy? Will Rana lose his dignity to his past sins? The Circle of Three is about finding a new beginning in life, of forgiving and ultimately, finding hope.

The writer makes a strong case of hope in seamlessly hopeless situations. The story revolves between three unhappy protagonists whose live entwined and resolved in an almost telepathic manner. All these characters are inherently broken, they have a strong back stories to justify their present behaviour but all are yearning to get back to a better life within the realms of worldly limitations. There is depth to each character and a rare sensitivity specially to the thoughts of the 13-year old. You may find lot of situations implausible and reactions over-the-top but you are willing to over look those flaws in a narrative which is keeping you hooked.

What hurts the book in the end is the length which is way too long at over 250 odd pages. If you can somehow get past this minor glitch, there is a strong sense of reassurance prevalent through the narrative regarding a positive approach of life and how not to harbour negative thoughts. The author does well in not inundating the narrative with too many characters which is generally too common these days in Indian fiction. As a result, all three characters are neatly etched out and the metamorphosis of each of them over the course of the story does not look contrived.

I am going with 3/5 for Rohit Gore's 'Circle of Three'. A little shorter, better edited and more nuanced this could have been a more rewarding read. In its present form, it is a one time read. Be patient with it, you may be pleasantly surprised at various plot points. It has got its heart at the right place, but you may find other body parts scattered all over.

December 8, 2012

Book Review - 104 : Once Upon The Tracks of Mumbai

Author : Rishi Vohra
Publisher : Jaico Publishing House

Babloo, a Mumbai resident is autistic and people often misunderstood him as 'psychotic' and 'schizophrenic'. His world is divided into two parts - Vandana, the sole affection in his life and the rest of the world. He has a no relationship with his brother, Shekhar and a hate relationship with Sikander, the local cable operator guy. A basic plot clearly 'inspired' from SRK's character in My name is Khan, it singles out the difficulties of the central character interspersed with the nuances of the relationship he is trying to have in his life and the elevation of Rail Man in the Mumbai locals.

The author do make some interesting observations - molestation and indecent touching of women in local trains and their indifferent reactions towards men at times, society's reaction towards autism or any such ability, constant effort to believe in your dreams and keep following them even when chips are down. But all these plot points are burrowed under a long narrative of over 270 pages and that tends to make things tedious.

The author is clearly influenced from the Bollywood films and even though amalgamation of plot points within the story line are not that seamless, you can take the risk of ignoring the same. The ending is as expected, and the writer does not show any tendency to make the climax any "different" than the routine one. A feel good narrative keeps you interested though tendency to slipping in grammatical errors in such books is a routine now.

I am going with 2/5 for Rishi Vohra's 'Once upon the tracks of Mumbai'. There is inherent sincerity with which central character has been handled, but there is very little unpredictability or freshness which you may experience while reading the book. Read if you are a fan of Bollywood kind of romances in books.

December 1, 2012

Book Review - 103 : Love in Crazy Times

Author : KV Gautam
Publisher : Diamond Books

The protagonist Amit is a daring middle class guy who chases both love and dream of starting his own business. The story, narrated in the first person by Amit, is set in Delhi from the period of 2005 to 2011. The story follows life of Amit, a small town boy armed with optimism and confidence, who comes to Delhi in search of a job. The story also narrates personal and professional struggles of his friends Suraj and Shantanu, who came to Delhi from Lucknow and Kolkata respectively.

He is faced with the hypocritical Indian society and the corrupt business class on his path. His victory is not easy and comes after a long trail of personal and professional setbacks.The story also shows how India, after the economic liberalization, is offering immense opportunities as well as challenges to young people. Its also about the cultural gap between a small town and a metro, and how parents find it difficult to adjust in a fast changing nation.

Relying solely on central protagonist's over reactions, the book is slow and does not achieve anything in terms of plot. Even if you ignore numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes, the confusing timelines and progression of the narrative will leave you dumbfounded. Amit turns out to be a whiner, and even though there are deliberate attempts to show him as a loser in order to illustrate his inner conflict, it comes off as contrived and superficial. There are too many incidents sprinkled through the narrative which have no connection with the main story line neither they contribute to any of the characters. In the end, they just add to the length of the book.

I am going with 1/5 for KV Gautam's 'Love in Crazy Times'. It is a book in which the lead character tries hard to do something of his life. There are good chances you will not feel the same about your life after reading the book. Even though it is only 150 odd pages long, it will seriously test your patience. Read at your own risk.