Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Book Review : Love Trumps All!




ABOUT THE BOOK

"Love Trumps All!’ is a work of fiction that takes the reader, along with its protagonists, on a journey that waves of Indian immigrants have made to the US and back, and many American businessmen have made to India in search of cheap labor since the Y2K phenomenon. It is an illuminating interwoven story of five unlikely friends in a global setting across Silicon Valley, Manhattan, Mumbai, Pune, Khamgaon (representative of small-town India full of youth with stars-and-stripes in their eyes!), Hyderabad and Nepal, as they explore their liberal progressive identities in a world powered by immigration and divided by nationality, religion, and politics. 

A story that spans the Y2K opportunities of 1990s to the current backdrop of US 2016 presidential election. With rising nationalism and protectionism, uncertainties and anxieties that immigrants to the US face, the story takes on a particularly poignant hue. Universally recognizable dilemmas of patriotism vs global citizen-hood, traditionalism vs modernity, alienation vs fitting-in make this story one that will be read with equal interest and identification by readers in the US as well as in India. Life-changing events alter the perspectives of the Indian as well as American characters in the book, as their search for identity and the expansion of their horizons takes them half way around the world and back, in search of their true selves. 

Anant Joshi, a dreamer who chases the American dream during Y2K rush and leapfrogs from a small Indian town to set up one of the hottest and innovative Silicon Valley ventures. 

Chris O’Brian, an energetic and creative high-tech sales leader from New York who is driven by his passion for life, creativity and making it big. 

Sameera Qureshi, a young gynecologist from Hyderabad attending her medical residency in California and trying to find love and her true human identity. 

Amy Cohen, a lively, articulate, compassionate pediatrician who is ready to ride on larger than life waves. 

Madhura Sharma, journalist and social worker driven by her nationalistic ideals and drive to help others.

What happens when their paths intersect and blend?”

REVIEW 

This novel traces the life of a few friends-growing up, friendship, romance, tragedies, and so on. The book also has solid doses of the philosophical viewpoints, as they grapple with religion, opportunism, loss, honesty, parent-child conflict, love for the motherland and the lure of Amrika, american politics, etc.

“Love Trumps All” is a book which shows the real struggles of moving to a different environment and adapting to it. People born in one country, travelling to other for work and then facing the dilemma of where to settle is a very common thing these days. The topic is relevant for every non resident Indian.

It offers the journey of each character in their respective point of views, set non-chronologically and the author has portrayed each one of their views in beautiful words. The bond of friendship between the protagonists is very heartwarming and it shows that with the love and support from friends and family, no hardship of life is difficult to conquer.

Beautifully integrated backstories (some tragic) of these 5 characters that bring forth the cultural and emotional aspects of relationships. Every reader can relate to at least one character in the book. Experiences of small town India and US were eye opening. It is a romantic novel at heart with many other facets - relationships with parents, friends, teachers, career aspects, cultural differences, finally proving that people everywhere are basically the same - country, religion, caste etc are just the ways we qualify them.

'Love Trumps All' is a wonderful read with witty life experiences and lessons you will forever cherish in your heart. Each character is distinct. The author has done a splendid job of initiating each of these story lines, embellishing them with interesting real life situations and then taking them to a logical conclusion.

This book summarizes the various aspects of life from dreams to passion, Ind-USA-Ind, Business trips to start-ups, individual values to families bonding, US elections to philanthropic, etc.

VERDICT - A highly recommended book for everyone interested in knowing not only about life in India and USA but also about human psyche, diverse religious beliefs.

The title "Love Trumps All" sums up the storyline perfectly! Excellent job Sudarshan - could not believe this was your 1st book. Please keep writing! 

RATING -5/5

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Book Review : Transit Lounge

Book Review : Transit Lounge 

Title: Transit Lounge

Author: Sunil Mishra

Publisher: Leadstart Publishers

ISBN-13: 9789352017157

Number of Pages: 212


BLURB: “Transit Lounge” is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years.

The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argentina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy,Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Georgia,Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand. 

It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country.”

Book Cover: The book has a minimalistic yet attractive cover. It has a world map in a very sober color and that gives the reader a nice feeling.

REVIEW: Transit Lounge is a travel memoir by Sunil Mishra that describes his visit to thirty countries across six continents. 

Transit lounge by Sunil Mishra is a book of candid experiences worth the read, based on the early times when the author had started travelling for work, the book takes us on a tour that any other modern day book probably won’t. 

You can make a mental comparison of the current amenities and of the times that were. The book is written in a good spirit, making the pleasant feeling of the journeys contagious for the reader.

The book comprises of 8 chapters and each chapter is divided to a set of countries that the author has travelled. The book is also a perfect travelogue of the author and this can be used as a reference to know about the various places, customs followed in each country, the habitat, the weather conditions, the travel process with a live demonstration feeling.

Have you ever traveled to different countries by just reading a book? I am lucky enough that I got the opportunity to read a book that gave me an overview/ world tour of different continents and countries. It takes each and every reader "literally to a world tour through its words". The author has impeccably narrated every minute detail of a journey to a new place right from choosing the place of travel till a person reaches his destination. 

The author raises some very relevant points when it comes to social, economic and political conditions of the countries he focuses on. Most of the countries have been analysed from the perspective of how it maybe like to travel through the country or live there as an expat. I liked how description to every country was short, crisp and to-the-point. All the points mentioned were much relevant, sometimes funny, and answered a lot of queries regarding various countries in my mind. The comparative analysis of every country to India is what I felt was the USP of this travelogue.

If you're an Indian and you're wondering what other countries are like, you'll definitely love the answers you find in this one. Go ahead and pick it up if you're interested in a travel memoir. But do keep in mind that even there are some pictures in the book, they're black and white. So, they may not be as fun to look at as the reading the book actually was.

NEGATIVES: The book is written in a very simple and illustrative way. The writing is a little led down for me. The sentence formation could have been a tad little better, the editors should have given this piece a little more time and care. The book though very well written is ridden with mistakes. These typographical errors play a spoil sport. So incident becomes inddent, civic becomes dvic, class becomes dass and the crest jewel – click becomes dick. I wish the book was well edited and these mistakes were avoided.

VERDICT: They say that travel broadens the mind and this book is a perfect example of how travel can influence a person, can make him realize how similar human beings are across the world in spite of each country and people having their own special characteristics. I am very impressed by Mishra’s detailing skill and his way of observation, whether it's food, clothes, music, source of entertainment or travelling.

BUY OR NOT TO BUY: If you are a travel enthusiast or someone with wanderlust buried under the dust of daily chores, this is the book for you. Pick it up!

RATING: 4.5/5 (-0.5 for typographical errors)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Book Review : The Aryabhata Clan

Genre: FICTION
Price : INR  595


Overview: The Islamic State has spread its tentacles in India, penetrating stealthily into the academia, media and politics. The mastermind is Shamsur Ali, a physicist from Bangladesh. To destabilize India, he wants to create a sort of apocalypse, which the 21-year-old Kubha must prevent at any cost, come what may.

In a brazen attempt at legitimizing the demolition of one of the most prominent historical structures in India, someone—unbelievably, it could be both Hiranyagarbha Bharata, a radical Hindu outfit, and the Islamic State—resorts to a big deceit.

Afsar Fareedi, a linguistic paleontologist, catches the fraud. In the melee, there are three gruesome murders, including that of her father, perhaps to eliminate all traces of a carpet which, Afsar discovers, has a lot hidden in its mysterious motifs. At the centre of all this is a verse composed by the maverick mathematician, Aryabhata, some 1,500 years ago.

REVIEW : The author makes a humble but sincere attempt at retelling history as authentically as possible, without being driven by any agenda. The author has very boldly and nakedly told many things that many other, especially the so called liberal western media, intelligentsia and academia, would never have the guts to even accept – the one being the spread of the Islamic terrorism. 

This novel has done a wonderful job in narrating a story revolving around the Islamic terrorism and Islamic State in a very impartial and unprejudiced manner.

It's amazing to even fathom the premise of the book. There’s a family from Pakistan that has preserved ancient carpet motifs for thousands of years, even unknown to their members. Afsar, a renowned linguistic paleontologist, and a distinguished member of the family, suddenly realizes that the carpet motifs have a lot hidden behind them. That a seemingly harmless thing like the designs of a carpet can reveal a sinister plan hatched by a group of religious fanatics – a plan that aims at creating a turmoil of unprecedented proportions in the country – is itself something that can make a reader awestruck. 

The book, apart from everything else, is just amazing because of the suspense, and wow factor it evokes at every point, starting from its background, themes, locations, people and the myriad topics it takes you through.

There are number of threads running parallelly all along the narrative, and the deft handling of the complex disciplines like linguistics, archaeology, palaeography, epigraphy, mathematics, music etc. The four main threads in the book are: the Islamic State penetrating into India; a carpet with its mysterious motifs; an interesting take on the history of the Indian peoples, languages and cultures; and finally, Aryabhata, the mathematician himself. The amount of effort that has been put in presenting facts and figures authentically is indeed a commendable task. A lot of research has gone behind it. 

Spanning across the civilizational backdrops of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this is an ambitious piece of fiction, especially because it deals with rapidly spreading terrorism among educated youth in the subcontinent. In the light of recent terror attacks in Bangladesh where affluent and educated young men were involved in hideous acts of terrorism, this theme is one readers will be able to identify with. 

The novel is about the struggle of Kubha, a feisty student of JNU who gets abducted by Islamic terrorists. Born to a Muslim mother and a Hindu father, Kubha knows a lot about these two religions and has the maturity to perceive that all religions are the same and are basically for good. She manages to escape from captivity with immense strength and her ability to decode various plans which her abductors execute for her. Aided with her knowledge in ancient Islamic and Hindu cryptology, her journey towards freedom shows how the conflicting religions go back to the same roots, therein making all inter-religious animosities futile.

She has been put through the most inhuman ordeal. She is gang raped by the Islamist fundamentals, a group affiliated to the Islamic State. Still for a moment, she doesn’t lose her calm. She endures everything and even risks her own life, just for the sake of her country. She’s the epitome of womanhood, loving & emotional, courageous & intelligent, tender & sensitive, expressive & possessive.

A thoroughly gripping book which has every page of it embossed with a riveting experience, depth and vastness of many complex threads. Fantastic storytelling with the right mix of flow and content. A lot of takeaways and a definite must-read for all in this age of genre blending of fiction and non fiction. This book has a remarkable hold over a big canvas, in terms of time, place, characters. It was a great experience reading this novel, which is quite an impressive feat.

You sort of get a hang of it slowly, as the plot proceeds. You're hooked. Though there are many characters, and at the beginning you may tend to get a little confused, but with some time and effort you do get into the skin of each characters. Even smaller characters have definite roles. I feel few characters could have been curtailed a bit, for the ease of readers.

There are not many Indian writings which take a middle path. And that’s what is adopted by Sudipto in his debut novel. Very wonderfully he has presented the Indian history in a very authentic way, without getting swayed away or being preachy. In most places he has implicitly provided authentic sources. 

VERDICT : A very well written novel with a fantastic story line. Gripping, unabashedly truthful, authentic, emotional – a fabulous thriller. A wonderful story teller. Keeps you hooked till the end. An amazing amount of study and research done by the writer.

RATING : 4.5/5 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Depression Talk - Symptoms, How To Deal With It



Depression can drain your energy, hope and drive, making it hard to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn't easy, there are plenty of little things that can help you on the way to recovery. Many people make the fundamental mistake of presuming that depression is sadness, but the two are entirely different things. While sadness is a normal human emotion that comes and goes and is usually caused by certain events, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It is normal to experience feelings of sadness and dispair in response to adverse life events. Such events could include loss, major life changes, stress, or disappointment. In most cases, the sad feelings resolve as you come to terms with the changes in your life. In situations such as bereavement, these feelings may persist for months and return at significant times. You can’t just will yourself to “snap out of it,” but you do have more control than you realize—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself each day. If you've wondered if you could have depression or if the feelings you've been experiencing are normal there are some common signs and symptoms to be aware of that can help you decide if you should seek professional treatment. These symptoms generally occur for most of your day without letting up and can continue on for days or even weeks and months at a time. * Feeling sad, lost, empty, hopeless, or just generally unhappy * Losing interest in or enjoyment from activities you previously enjoyed *Changes in sleeping habits ranging from insomnia to spending most of your time sleeping or in bed *Exhaustion and a lack of energy that makes even simple everyday tasks seem difficult *Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness *Slowed thinking or difficulty paying attention *Feeling worthless or not good enough (often in conjunction with overthinking past mistakes or failures) *Feeling guilty about things that aren't your fault or are out of your control *Difficulty making decisions or remembering things *Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide *Physical issues, such as headaches or muscle pain If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better! There’s always hope.