Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tall Man Small Shadow by Vipin Behari Goyal; A Review

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Author      : Vipin Behari Goyal
s        : 152
Price         : Rs. 240
Publishers :
Rating       : 3/5

Shadows we know are dependable creatures. Light is what they depend upon. They flicker, they skim, they behave in accordance with the manner the light falls upon its owner. Except the shadows of human souls that form or change in accord with their actions or thoughts is difficult for us to gauge. Or is it?

"What men call the shadow of the body is not the shadow of the body, but is the body of the soul."  -- Oscar Wild.

Tall Man Small Shadow, a short novel, has an unconventional theme by the debut author, Vipin Behari Goyal; a financial advi
sor by profession in Govt of Rajasthan. (The theme, here, garners an extra .5 from me) The plot showcases how every character is entwined with each other either through manipulation or coincidence.

The protagonist 
Salil falls for the shadow of his pretty neighbor Aalya, a PhD student. Aalya gets into a lesbian relationship with her guide, Seema who is childless and lonesome wife of an artist. Further the shadow uncovers many aspects of life and the book progresses. These and other characters, Aalya's parents and Seema's husband, struggle through their frenzied lives and in the end resolve for a harmonious life. But was is all coincidence or a well thought out plot? Tall Man Small Shadow is about how craftily the harmony is achieved.  

The writing is simple yet crisp but, at times marred by lack of proof reading. The narration flows gently with occasional babbles. What impairs your reading the most here is the use of multiple voices within one chapter, and it happen
s through out. Its a small novel more like a novella and can be read at one go. The cover of the book works well to grab one's attention. 

This could have made an exceptional read with stronger plot and characterizations along with good editing. Nevertheless, it ends up being a light read with philosophical tone and coincidences woven together.

This review is on request by the author. I thank him for choosing my blog as a platform for his book.

The Himalayan Revelation By Pankaj Misra; A Passage to Hampi and Leh.

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Author     : Pankaj Misra
Pages      : 316
Price       : Rs. 425
Publishers: Power Publishers
Rating     : 3/5

To blend history and fiction is tricky and to achieve a success out of it is even trickier. The Tales Pensieve listed The Himalayan Revelation and attracted by the book's historical-thriller theme, I immediately right clicked the mouse and chose the book to review. I wasn't disappointed; it’s a good read, one that I couldn't put down. Though I wish I could have said "extraordinary".

Debut author Pankaj Misra, knits a Historical-Thriller from the memories and research gathered from his exploration over the years.
Protagonists Gaurav and Natasha find themselves in a project to digitally recreate a historical site for the tourists. The research for the same takes them to Hampi. They discover that Hampi might be connected to Leh. The adventure ascends from there and many secrets lie before them ready to get revealed.

Nuances of the history could have been worked upon little more to emerge the reader into the tome.
For instance in the second chapter, “…Rama Raya to his credit, suspected that something fishy was going on around him, called a meeting of his generals.”
Here, what makes Rama Raya suspicious of anything odd, given that the later incidents show us a fierce war, is not clear. A few grammatical slips make their cameos which are passable given the ride is fun.

The maps that occasionally feature in the book add to the historical value of the novel. Misra's language is simple and quite good, and doesn't hinder the reading though, a few chapters present themselves as dissertation on history. It could have been more interesting if the past was described in literary style. And the thriller aspect was faint which makes The Himalayan Revelation more Historical than a Historical thriller.

However, a very good attempt by the debut author and I would recommend it if history interests you. 

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Lowland, An Experience To Savor; a Review

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The Lowland.


Author    :  Jhumpa Lahiri
s      : 340
Price       :  Rs. 499.
Publisher :  Random House India.
Rating     :  4.5/5
Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2013.

It's always a delight to read an author of repute like Lahiri. And with her second novel, The Lowland, the experience continues albeit in a different manner. Unlike her previous works, this one is more wordy and meandering at times. Nevertheless, it makes an intense plot, which, in its own beautiful pace, engulfs the reader through its exquisite language. Longlisted for the Year's The Man Booker Prize, the novel is a pure literature read. My favorite Lahiri reads are The Interpreter of Maladies and The Unaccustomed Earth followed by The Namesake, and how I hoped for The Lowland to escalate the ladder and sit on the top of the list, alas it does not.

In this tome Lahiri writes about the cruel life that's entwined by the past. The story revolves around two brothers, a political turmoil, a woman's love- her heartbreak and guilt, a couple in wrong marriage, a mother's abandoning of her child, a daughter's acceptance of reality. It's about a death that affects three lives and disperses an entire family. Like her preceding works, this too speaks of immigrants experiencing the living at a far remove. She diligently details the Naxalite movement of 1960's Calcutta and narrates gorgeously the life in Rhode Island.

It enhances the impact of being in wrong choices. Here I say "being", since making a choice coerces one to live it, unless one does something constructive to get out of it or correct it. In The Lowland, the characters choose to live their wrong choices for years. 
You might relate to the characters many times and might loathe them for their actions at other times.

The character sketching is impeccable albeit with a bit of sporadic drag in the narration. The nuances and the texture of the story builds an atmosphere that grips the reader's attention. The mundane elements showcased impart life to the settings and characters. Lahiri eschews the use of quotation marks for dialogues, a style that reminds of Cormac McCarthy, although, you do come across semi-colons and other punctuation, which are always absent in McCarthy's writings. 

s is a poignant novel that needs to be read at leisure absorbing each page, each word. It makes you sit up and think about the life you have lived and the one you are living. The Lowland is an absolutely recommended read.

This is a part of the Review Program By MySmartPrice/Books

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Surprise; Day of love!

My phone that was resting next to my pillow rang angrily at 1 AM. It flashed my best friend’s name who was in the other room with the guys. 

 “Meet me at the porch”, he said. And with that he hung up.

With sleepy eyes I looked around, the girls were lost in their slumber world. The trek had been tiresome. I got up with my body aching in places. Ran my fingers through my hair to discipline them, wore my glasses and went out in my slippers.

The porch light was on and he was standing there grinning sheepishly. I realized he looked adorable in his worn out pajamas. Before I could say anything, he reached out, held my hands and led me towards a bamboo chair. I sat down throwing dozens of questions at him.

“Close your eyes”, he said.

I narrowed my eyes to which, he made a puppy face, “Please”. With a giggle I complied. I heard a rustle.

  “Open your eyes”.

He was holding something rectangle draped in a glittering white gift wrapper with a cute pink bow at its base. My hunch told me, it was a book.

I grabbed and unwrapped the gift carefully, making sure I didn't tear it.

*Pride & Prejudice*

 “Happy Birthday”, he said. “A belated one”.

I looked up at him and saw him staring at me strangely. There was something different in his voice and his eyes. My own heartbeat spoke a different language.

 “This is my favorite book”, I whispered. My happiness knew no bound. It was a book I had never owned. As a kid I had its abridged copy. And for sometime I had planned to buy one for myself. I remember mentioning it to him once. But it was just a passing murmur. He remembered.

 I looked at the book and back at him. I didn't know what to say, what to do. Then I leaned and hugged him tightly and whispered a 'thank you'.
Breaking away from him, I looked at him again. I felt my smile faint as I saw his expressions speaking the different language which my heart had adapted. He was still holding me in his arms refusing to let go off me. Realization hit me that my arms refused to leave him too. The man in my arms was now more than my best friend.

 “I was yearning to see you smile like a child when you unwrap it. I had envisioned your face beaming while holding this book”, he said.

 “And did you envision my face while holding you?”

He chuckled and placed a loving kiss on my knuckles. “No sweety, it was a surprise”.

Biting my lower lips I looked at him knowing we found our day… our day of love. -Friendship would go beyond and turn into something so beautiful; who knew?
The rest of the morning we stayed there on the porch, talking, looking at each other, holding hands and basking in the glow of our new found love, until our friends woke up.

A year later we celebrated first anniversary of our day of love by tying the knot and exchanging Platinum bands. The bands now proudly shine on our ring fingers, representing our true and undying love for each other. Like the naturally white metal, our love is pure and pristine. Platinum does not fade or tarnish with time and that is what love is all about- Eternal.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Croaking Froggy Princess- Voice lost& found!

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Courtesy: google
week ago, the morning saw me vaguely coughing. My health conscious side immediately kicked me for gulping down chilled nimboo-paani, which had become a ritual for me since mid Oct. In my defense, my motto of indulging in the tasty desi beverage was solely to beat the heat. But muaa nimboo-paani victimized my throat and by evening I was coughing like a pro. By night, an unwanted not-so-beautiful female frog camped around the base of my throat, making me croak whenever I wished to speak. And some of my close friends decided not to leave me alone and same pinched me the next day. *gets emotional*

My fear of loosing my voice, which happened to me a few years ago, took shape and the following day I couldn't speak. I remember how my dad and friends last time celebrated my muteness, *bachh gaye, isski bak-bak sunne nahi milegi*. However, this time they weren't that lucky and by evening my vocal cords healed itself to some extend and I was able to talk, albeit coughing.

Courtesy : google
To get my vocal cords and throat back on their feet (no they don't have legs, come on) before the end of the week, two tried and tested remedies along with the doc’s prescribed med made their way into my croaking life; the haldi-namak-honey wala hot water, haldi wala doodh and a lip smacking cough syrup. These along with many suggested home remedies by all my shubhchintaks (Such sweet souls, God Bless them) kept pouring in. Some even advised the much loved Rum, an idea I had to turn down cause, main madira nahi peeti ji. All along, wishing I had ten throats like Mr. Ravana to try all the interesting non-alcoholic remedies all at the same time. Soon an enlightening thought told me that it would have been such a pain in the wrong place to have ten soar throats, and eventually I gave up the wish. I stuck with the first three curing agents.

And did they work? Did the frog say good bye to me? Am I singing like Shreya Ghoshal? Whoa! Whoa! Hold on… gosh you ask too many question *rolls eyes*.
Well, yes they are working, although gingerly... the frog is bit stubborn, her three legs are out of my body and one is still weakly placed inside. Yes, she loves me… the virus loves me. I am so lovable. But unfortunately, I cannot live up to the Atithi Devobhava concept here, and my current prayers are mainly concentrating on farewell of these unwanted guests. Till then, I am counting my blessings; like my favorite cure happens to be the thick deep purplish anti-narcotic syrup which I am quaffing 4 times a day. It tempts me to guzzle down the entire bottle at one go. However, my sane self puts the leash on me every time I think of becoming a glutton. The other blessing is, I am not allowed to gorge on Diwali goodies to keep the soreness from aggravating, hence, keeping me away from piling on those extra kilos which is pretty normal every year during this season. (Okay okay…Shruti, I know I don’t put on much…stop rolling your eyes).
As for singing like Shreya Ghoshal- that phenomenon can't take place even when my throat is fit and healthy.

So, here I am nursing my vocal cords and writing about my throaty-adventure wishing to get well soon and scream… "I am Queen of the World". *fingers crossed*
And with that healthy wish…I the Froggy Princess wishes you a Grand Diwali and a Prosperous New Year! Be safe and enjoy. ;)

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