Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Mandate: Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi

I picked this book due to my recently developed interest in Indian politics. Mandate: Will of the People by Vir Sanghvi is a political non-fiction (Published by Westland Books). It is based on author's personal memories, and experience, and the interviews he had conducted.

The book deals with the history of Indian politics. It's like a journey carrying the striking revelations, covering the time-frame of 1971 to 2014.

It tries to answer few striking questions about Indian politics like: 'How did Narsimha Rao become Prime Minister of India?  'Why Sonia Gandhi didn't agree to become Prime Minister?' 'What was the Ram Mandir agitation really about?'

The book discusses the declaration of emergency, and its effect. Status of Sanjay Gandhi in Indian politics. Assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the riots that followed. The factors that declare Manmohan Singh a weak Prime Minister, and how it cleared the way for PM Narendra Modi.

The book reveals the surprising facts about the personality of Indira Gandhi. For me it was interesting to know. I liked the excerpts of  I K Gujral's interview  that the author had conducted (I really liked the way he tackled Sanjay Gandhi at the crucial time of Emergency).

The most problematic thing about this book was its writing style. I have read 'Rude food', a weekly column by the author in HT Brunch. But, writing-wise, there is no reflection of crisp Rude Food in the book. Sometimes, I wondered if the book was actually written by Vir Sanghvi. It somehow seems like a reported special feature that we often see on news channels. The font style (And size) was disturbing.

The best thing about this book is that it is fast-paced. Even if you are not interested in politics, it can be a quick read for you!

Overall, the book is a decent attempt. It is for those who are interested in Indian politics, especially who don't know much. If you're interested in Indian politics, it can be an interesting read for you. If you don't know much about the history of Indian politics, it can be informative and enlightening. But, the book has nothing new to offer to those who keep tab on Indian politics.

I truly thank Writer's Melon for sending the review copy for an honest review!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Do you keep a dream journal?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Misery by Stephen King, Twilight Stephenie Meyer. What do these three great books have in common? They all are inspired by dreams.

It happens. If you are a writer, you can easily connect your dreams with your creativity.

I had a dream. A little vague. When I woke up, I was happy, thinking that it can be a nice scene for my story but, I forgot to jot it down and I forgot. Very frustrating! Just like some writing ideas, memories of dreams are ephemeral. That’s why you need to keep a dream journal.

A man and a woman are standing in a jungle, and a body is lying nearby.

I had this dream a few months back. I was excited when I realised that I could craft a story inspired by this dream. I let my always occupied mind churn for few days, and eureka! I crafted a 2500-word story!

Dreams! I have a strange connection with my dreams. Sometimes, dreams are amazingly clear that it seems weird. Some faces that you don't recognize but they are so clear that you could remember it for long. Beautiful surroundings that you don't want to return. Some exciting dreams leave you annoyed when interrupted in-between.

Dreams can give you interesting ideas for your writing. They may turn into a nice setting or maybe some striking situation for your new story. Or you may get introduced to an interesting character in a dream. Or maybe you can get a whole story idea! You never know.

If you are a writer, you should keep a dream journal. You can create a separate space for dreams in your regular writing journal.

According to estimates by dream researcher J. Allan Hobson, as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. So, jot down if you have seen something interesting in your dreams. Write them immediately when you wake up. They are not going to last for long. Sometimes, you may forget them the moment you get up. But sometimes, you may remember them for long. I still remember some of my dreams that I had seen many years back.

Write in bits. You can organise later.

You are not going to dream the whole story. You may get some flashes, and then you need to connect the dots. That is where your creativity and imagination are tested.

You are not going to dream worth writing everyday. You must learn to interpret your dreams. Think about it. But don't bother. Don't strain. Just have fun!

Think differently. It would be exciting to try different genre.

Have you ever written anything inspired by your dreams?  Do share!

Keep dreaming and keep writing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murthy

The Mother I Never Knew is my second book by Sudha Murthy. The first one was Mahashweta and I think it was a nice read. But, for this book, I am not sure if I can say the same.

The Mother I Never Knew is a set of two novellas, based on nearly same theme. Finding (Rather discovering) a mother the protagonist never knew.

The first story is about Venkatesh, a rich bank employee, who stumbles upon his lookalike one day. This leads him to the hidden past of his father, which includes an abandoned wife and a child, living in a shabby condition. What would he do now?

The second story is about Mukesh, a rich, young, married man living in London. He gets an agonizing shock after his father's death. He was actually adopted! He is determined to find his biological mother without knowing that this quest is going to confuse him emotionally.

Stories are not just based on same themes but they are filmy as well. They seem straight from 70's old-fashioned movies, and you may not relate with the situations and characters. The blurbs on the cover don't leave any surprise element. You know what is waiting ahead.

The language is very simple. It's fine. I don't have any problem with that. The main problem is writing style. I am surprised. It's too ordinary for a novella. Things that could have been described in crisp narration are told through insignificant dialogues. The author has focused on telling rather than showing. There's a POV glitch.

I would have liked it if the stories were told in first person. If they had specific titles. If the author had chosen one female protagonist.

I liked the book cover very much! It matches the title perfectly.

Overall, considering the author and publishing house (Penguin Books India), I am disappointed. But, then, if you like reading the author, you can pick this light read.

I received this book from Penguin Random House India for an honest review.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am not a fan of suspense, thrillers. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins (Random House India) is a suspense thriller, and I loved it! Because it’s different. Not just typical tensed, dark,  packed with unending action.

Rachel’s life is perfectly imperfect! She is alcoholic, and creates mess; her flatmate resents her habits and may evict her someday soon; she is jobless, seeking a loan from her mother; she is divorced yet hovering around her ex-husband and his new wife and baby. Obviously, it irks them to no end.

Rachel takes the same train every morning that stops at the same signal every day, overlooking a stretch of suburban residential area, allowing her to watch the life of a couple living in one of those cozy homes. Gradually, she starts to feel connected to them as if she knows them. For Rachel, they are Jess and Jason, a perfectly happy couple.

But of course they are not Jess and Jason.

One day she sees something when the train passes by the area. It is just a flash but disturbs her terribly. And then, one day, a striking piece of news exacerbates her disturbance. Her life upends and she inexplicably finds herself involved, deep.

Although, the story of The Girl on the Train is a suspense thriller, it doesn't feel so. It feels a cozy drama about family, marriage and love. The story advances interestingly. With a tormenting memory-loss and psychological tricks, it unravels strikingly chapter by chapter that keeps you going, playing the guessing game.

The writing is clean, skilful and cleaver. The book is written in diary form, from different points of view. Chapters are arranged intelligently. Characters are flawed yet nicely sketched.

Just, some really short chapters seem insignificant, making the read repetitive.

Overall, for me it was an impressive read. Interestingly gripping! Something you can call unputdownable! Highly recommended to every book-lover. And, if you like psychological suspense thrillers, it’s a must read!

Looking forward to the author's next book.

I got this review copy from the publisher for an honest review.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Emotional Abuse

"...reading your emails, going through your internet browser history - you describe all this as though it is commonplace, as though it is normal. It isn't, Megan. It is not normal to invade someone's privacy to that degree. It's what is often seen as a form of emotional abuse."

This dialogue is from a book "The Girl on The Train" that I'm just about to finish. (It's gripping!). Do you find anything striking in it. I did. It left me thinking. I was introduced to a new term. "Emotional Abuse". Really.

Few years back, I'd seen a telefilm in which a husband asks his son to accompany his mother wherever she goes. When they return, the husband would casually and affectionately ask questions like "Where they'd gone?" or "Whom they'd met?" when the wife was not around. This is bad, and definitely spying and the husband doesn't trust his wife. I thought.

Some people tend to feel that what's wrong if I check? Do you have anything to hide? If not, then why do you feel uncomfortable? Check mine, I don't mind.

What do you think? Is it really a form of emotional abuse? How would you feel if your partner checks your call details and emails (Checking internet browsing history is too much!). Would it make any difference if he/she does it secretly or openly (I mean casually, in front of you)? What if he doesn't mind if you check his calls and mails?

Did you find it striking while reading the book?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On Making Choices: My Take on #MyChoice Video

Initially, I thought to let it go but I just couldn’t. The churning thoughts in my mind seemed disturbing. 

I strongly believe that you should do everything you want to do until, until it’s not irresponsible, unethical, and illegal. Like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara! And, everyone has the right to live happily and at peace. You must make a strong choice for your happy, sober and peaceful life. 

But, I think My Choice Video by Deepika Padukone in association with Vogue India is slightly overrated, going overboard. It reflects ‘I-Don’t-Care’ attitude. It may provoke a certain attitude that a person may do something unfair, irresponsible and unjustified and just get away shrugging, saying ‘it’s my choice’. 

It may reflect the thoughts of actresses featured in the video but I don't think it actually represents WOMEN because discipline, responsibility and loyalty are universal concepts. I wonder if the makers actually think likewise (on every single point made in the video) or just being ‘cool’, going on a whim. 

I mean, of course we are free to make our choices but we must make wise and most importantly responsible choices, not just for us but for our dear ones.

Is every single point made in this video valid for men? Like coming home and going out whenever they want to. Or having sex outside a committed relationship? Or not giving a damn what you do, what you wear (Just minding his own business, doing whatever he wants). Not thinking which kind of upbringing their children need. No, Then women would stand up and shout about carelessness, not giving proper time (That I have to do everything alone), betrayal, ignorance… 

Same bunch of people, who are making and supporting each and every point of the video urgently, would talk about thoughtfulness, relationships and parenting and what not.

We can’t apply same theory everywhere.

It is not a race. It’s about you. The one who makes choices. We need to be sensitive, responsible and wise while making choices. 'Just' getting a chance to do ‘anything’, wearing certain kinds clothes, going anywhere, any time; not being responsible enough to tell your parents, partner, or even to your children your whereabouts; and, breach of commitment is not freedom. And it’s definitely not empowerment. Right to choose a desired education and career, fulfilling your dreams, is freedom, and a path to empowerment. Getting or rather extracting an opportunity /space to do something concrete, substantial and positive is empowerment! Compelling, thoughtfully and reasonably, people to believe you and your decisions (and proving your decisions right) is empowerment! You (Both men & women) don't necessarily need to do things mentioned in the video to get empowered.