Friday, December 14, 2018

Book Review #65: The New Dewtas: The Rise of Rudra

Name: The New Dewtas: The Rise of Rudra
Author: Suraj Kothiyal
No. of Pages: 222
Genre: Fiction/India/Street Narative
Publisher: Inkstate Books (an imprint of Leadstart Publishing)
Price: Rs. 249/- 
Published in: 2018 

How did I get it? From the author. 

THE BLURB SAYS:  

Neer, the head priest of the Himalayas, is troubled by the horrifying visions in his dream. On Ganga Maiyya's behest, he embarks on a journey to the doomed island of Bali. The island, plagued with cyclic torments of Sekala and Neskala and suffering from constant rainfall, faces an imminent danger of drowning in sea. However, Neer's power was no match for the strong evil forces that kidnapped the king and the queen, activating the volcano of Mt Agung. With the neighboring king of Java on his toes to attack and conquer the struggling island of Bali, will the gritty prince Erlangga, assisted by Neer, be able to save his kingdom? Read to find out how people turn towards the new dewtas introduced by Neer as the end becomes evident and how Eka-dasa-Rudra helps in arousing the most furious energy of this world, Rudra.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The author, Suraj Kothiyal, hails from the beautiful city of Dehradun with his family roots belonging to the Himalayan region. His parents are teacher by profession, brother works in a software firm and wife is a dance teacher. A mechanical engineer and an MBA in marketing, Suraj, had five years of corporate experience before he started his own entrepreneurial journey.

Today Suraj’s construction firm develops beautiful living spaces for its customers in Dehradun. Apart from marketing and construction, Suraj has keen interest in writing. He has been writing since childhood. Initially the hobby started out as writing poems in Hindi for school magazine. His love of poetry continues, and his collection of Hindi poems can be seen on his personal blog that goes by “poems.surajkothiyal.com”.

As a child, whenever Suraj went close to the mighty mountains of Himalayas, they whispered a story in his ears. These stories later ignited a passion in him to write historic fictions and it’s his endeavor to bring to light the highly diversified and rich culture across the world. This book is inspired by a popular folklore in Bali that talks of a Hindu saint namely, Maharishi Markandeya, who came to Bali from India and introduced Hinduism on the scenic island.
 
MY THOUGHTS: 

I am a fan of mythology and that is why I agreed to review this book. Although the narrative started interestingly, it turned put to be quite a disappointment. The book lacked depth and conviction.

For starters, who actually is Neer? Why is he blue? Why does he wear the stone on his arm? What powers does it have? What about his life in the Himalayas? How did he make his way from the Himalayas to the sea? No answers. Yet, he is the protagonist.

How was Erlangga's mother convinced by Raahuran to wear Rangda's mask; what was Gajah Meda's issue; what are the mysteries of the magical masks and nyoms? There is no elaboration.

Then, the ways of Balinese people come in bits and pieces. I wished there were a proper background connecting to the present plight they faced in the story. Also, I was not really convinced how quickly the Balinese discarded their traditional beliefs and embraced the new dewtas.

Nonetheless, you will get a glimpse of Balinese beliefs and ways and get to know about concepts like Sekala and Neskala. Balinese Hinduism is quite different than what is practiced in the Indian subcontinent. Reading this book made me curious and got me reading other stuff about Bali.
I give "The New Dewtas: The Rise of Rudra"



Monday, October 29, 2018

Book Review #64: Pyjamas Are Forgiving

Name: Pyjamas Are Forgiving
Author: Twinkle Khanna
No. of Pages: 256
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Juggernaut
Price: Rs. 325/- 
Published in: 2018 

How did I get it? From the publisher. 

THE BLURB SAYS:  
There sitting on that porch, that light-eyed man, a pitta like me, was my ex-husband and that woman whose inner element I was unaware of, unless bitch is accepted as an undiscovered fourth dosha, was his young wife.

In the serene sanctuary of Kerala’s Shanthamaaya spa where food is rationed, sex forbidden and emotions centred, Anshu meets someone familiar and deeply unsettling – her ex-husband. Bittersweet, funny and wise, Pyjamas Are Forgiving confirms Twinkle Khanna as one of our great storytellers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Twinkle Khanna is one of India’s top-selling writers and the author of two national bestsellers, Mrs Funnybones (winner of a Crossword Book Award 2016) and The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. She is one of Times of India’s most read columnists and has won numerous awards, including India Today Woman Writer of the Year, Outlook Award for Most Inspiring Woman of the Year and Vogue Opinion Maker of the Year.

She is the founder of Mrs Funnybones Movies and in 2018 produced the highly acclaimed film Pad Man. Khanna lives in Mumbai with her family.
MY THOUGHTS: 
"Pyajamas Are Forgiving" deals with the complexities of relationship - love and marriage, and the vulnerability associated with it. The backdrop is Kerala’s serene Shanthamaaya spa. There Anshu bumps into her ex-husband Jay, who is visiting with his young new wife. As old memories and feelings get ignited, Anshu finds herself in a daunting situation. Her peers at the facility are from different walks of life, and they lend perspective to the story.

It is a simple story, dealing with complex feelings. It is Anshu's tale of finally getting a bittersweet closure on her past relationship.

Personally, I enjoy the author's non-fiction writings more than her stories. They are a delight to read. But her stories are very real. To me, they lack the magic of beautiful storytelling, but decent reads nonetheless.
I give "The Idol Thief"


Book Review #63: Ambling Indian Diaries - Jouney India

Name: Ambling Indian Diaries - Journey India
Author: Aina Rao
No. of Pages: 186
Genre: Fiction/Humour/India
Publisher: Jufic Books (an imprint of Leadstart Publishing)
Price: Rs. 199/- 
Published in: 2018 

How did I get it? From the publisher. 

THE BLURB SAYS:  
A fascinating journey through India, the book offers a never before take on the real India, through the eyes of the ambling indian- a new generation common man and woman, someone just like you and me.

With 31 stories woven deftly into India’s story, take a trip through the gallis, mohallas, lanes and bylanes that make up much of India. Wander around in rickety autos with Cows on the roads, the King of potholes, the Badshah of Bollywood, and take a sneak peak into Indian offices and into the IITs and IIMs, the hallowed institutions of India. Be the commoner that takes an uncommon trip through Indian cities, Bollywood, schools, slums and more, and discovers not just a country, but a new world too- an India that puzzles, amuses, makes you laugh and cry too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Aina Rao, the author and creator of the 'Ambling Indian' character is a Silver medallist from IIT Delhi and a topper from IIM Bangalore. She is a financial services professional by training and a singer and writer by passion. Having traveled extensively across many countries and now living in Bangalore, the Indian Silicon valley, she brings her hilarious and thought-provoking experiences, ambling along as the 'aam aurat'; the common woman, to her quirky writings and talks on India. Her blog, hosted on www.amblingindian.com, has thousands of views worldwide and has featured in msn.co.in, as the editor's pick. She has also written for the Financial Times publications in London and is the author of a series of books- based on the quirky character - the ambling indian.
 
MY THOUGHTS: 

What attracted me to this book was the cover. It is vibrant, quirky and depicts India at a glance. But for me, the content didn't live up to the attractive cover.
The characters are quirky and familiar. Mangoman, Koffee Johar, potholes, cows, auto-rickshaw rides, rape, sexual harassment, real estate, journalism, media - all feature in this book. As an Indian, you will be definitely be able to connect to the characters, situations and incidents.

But I felt, that the style of writing and content lacked depth and clarity. At several places, it seemed rushed and the humour forced. However, I partly enjoyed few of the stories like "To Audit the Doctors", "Cows On The Road", "A City of Dogs" and "The King of the Potholes".

The stories has great potential.With a little depth and refinement, they can reach new heights.

I give "Ambling Indian Diaries - Journey India"