Rape is “Forcing Me to Set a Boundary”

Rape is violation of my bodily boundary which patriarchy forces me to set...

So Vogue is “Magazine of the Year”!!

How many of us have heard of the Ellies awards (interestingly named after elephant shaped trophies) being given every year in America...

Chasing Charlie Hebdo Dream

Exploring god in small things is nothing new but it sounds ridiculous if one reverses it....

The Last E-mail

It is my last day at my present office where I have spent....

What Adult Movies Has Taught Me !!

I always had this notion that geniuses don’t watch porn but this idea of mine shattered when I observed during my MBA days that...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mrs FunnybonesMrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading few articles of hers, I got interested and thought like giving this book a try. It’s a light reading and gives an insider view of the Bollywood family routine life but it is also more than that. This narrates funny affairs and not so funny incidents from the perspective of a modern hands-on working Mom who used to be a glamorous heroine and refused to dance around the trees (understandably so with the string of dud she delivered). She takes on various events and gives funny twist with a universal philosophical learning out of them. Very much like “Sex and the City”. Only the characters are very much Indian with few foreign ones thrown in here and there. The first person narrator sounds self-effacing, funny, ruminative, irreverent, angry, feminist, traditional, avant-garde, etc. etc. all at same time. As a lower middle class Angrezi book reading public, I loved getting to know what happens inside the mind and house and society of these high class public (though I highly doubt the authenticity). And perhaps that’s the reason many other people read this book and so we know why it’s a bestseller. Personally, I enjoyed reading this book and also took up her second book but had to put it down after going through only few lines. It appears, she is meant to pull off certain topics and certain styles of narrative!

View all my reviews

Friday, February 5, 2016

Milkman on a Dating App

Song of SolomonSong of Solomon by Toni Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A chance introduction to Milkman on a dating app is what brought me to “Song of Solomon”. Now for our regular families, a milkman is one who brings milk to them every day. For me and many like me, it is Mr. Veghese Kurien. And then one who has read this Toni Morrison novel knows Milkman as a character who is so intense and realistically portrayed that he stays with us for a long long time, longer than he was breastfed by his mother Ruth. Milkman is a character who reminds me of my own younger brother who gave a tough time to my mother to wean him. It was opposite in the case of Ruth. She wanted to keep Milkman on her milk only as long as possible and so his son got this name. But this is not only what makes Ruth a different character. There are many shades and more added by her husband and her father and her sister-in-law Pilate. I kept wondering would it be possible for a male writer to delve so deep in a female psyche and illuminate that space so bright you could spot even a needle! No doubt this is a story of strong women despite their vulnerabilities and Toni Morrison has narrated in a way that makes it forceful and delicate, personal and universal, local and global! As I turned the pages ( many times back and forth and dwelling extra time on several pages to grasp the narrative and feel the intensity of an event!), trials and tribulations of the black existence in white America kept coming to me in its brutal form. But there are moments of celebration and rejoice, hope and nostalgia, magic and adventure. After all life is like that and it depends on us how we take it, how we give it. And this is also true about dating apps, isn’t it?

View all my reviews

Monday, September 14, 2015

Educating the Oppressed

Pedagogy of the OppressedPedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pedagogy of the Oppressed begins with the process of humanization and dehumanization and in turn humanizes the left ideology fraught with not-so-occasional violent revolutions. Actually, it turns the epistemology of whole education/development/revolution discourse upside down and gives an insight which is more humane and understanding and at the same time not entirely inimical to the oppressor class. But more significantly, it critiques the prevailing scenario of education which he calls “banking model “and proposes a “problem-posing” approach. However strange it sounds but despite the establishment of the authority of what Paulo Freire asserted in such a vivid clear terms, it appears it has not been turned into praxis. The area of education still remains largely driven by rote-learning, information sharing and promises of making money. The student- teacher dynamics has remained still unchanged and has not graduated to what Paulo envisages teacher student-student teacher. It has much to do with a reluctance to relinquish a position of power and undue authority. Same can be told about the oppressor class who are responsible for creating, managing and perpetuating an unjust social order which dehumanizes the oppressed class and stop them from realizing the potential of a full human being. Due to their comfortable position of authority, the oppressor class cannot be expected to destroy such order and organically it should come from the oppressed class. But the centuries of exploitation of the mind and the body has rendered the oppressed unwilling to take up the cause of revolution. A fear of freedom has gripped them. They have inculcated few traits of the oppressor themselves and this duality is hindering them to initiate the process of development. So, from where to start transformation which will lead to development? Paulo suggest cooperation, organization and cultural synthesis to start the revolution. But this revolution does not intend to be violent or retaliatory against the oppressor. Rather, it must be informed by the love for humanity and nourished by the fruits of true education. In a world which is growing more and more materialistic, mechanical and self-centred, Paulo takes us to an ontological inquiry and shows path for a deeper engagement with society at large. Personally, I feel that the categories of the oppressor and the oppressed is very fluid and one may become both simultaneously. However, there is no denial of the fact that there are few absolute oppressed lots (tribals, Dalits, females, minorities to name a few) who are victim of a world order which is not conducive to them. And to inquire why it is so, maybe we will have to introspect ourselves whether an oppressor is situated deep within us without our own awareness! Undoubtedly, a true education will help in this self-inquiry.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 31, 2015

Serious Stuff and Some Gossips

DurbarDurbar by Tavleen Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tavleen Singh, the writer of Durbar, emerges as a brave journalist with high contacts and privileged access to high profile drawing rooms and she generously used these capabilities to make the book an interesting chronicle of the time when Indira and Rajeev ruled the country and strengthened the root of dynastic politics. Many of the events described in the book had already taken place when I was born and many of them happened when I was too young to make any sense of them. So, there has always been a curiosity to get some first-hand account of incidents like emergency, operation blue star, sikh riots, assassination of Mr. Gandhi, Bofors scandal and of course gossips of those times. The book offers them all and even more. It is her memoir of political events and being a political journalist of vast experience, her portrayal of the characters of those times appears quite authentic and believable. She does not shy away from putting Mr. Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in dock for the extremities of emergency, holding Rajiv Gandhi responsible for not being able to contain the riots post the assassination of his mother. Few gossips like - Sonia Gandhi was fond of fur coat and used to purchase them from Soviet Union but did not like the stitching and used to send them to fashion house Fendi to get it re-stitched- and many such juicy drawing room discussions provide comic relief in the book and give an insight into the human frailties of the high and mighty of Delhi Dynasty. But it does not mean that author spares herself. On the contrary, she is brutally honest about her own ignorance of the Indian society and how she was part of the same high-class social circles but her journalistic engagements enabled her to see the real India long hidden by the high-walled building of Lutyen’s Delhi. On the expense of sounding hyperbolic, let me tell it anyway, Tavleen Singh appears to be a character from the novel Midnight Children, her fate and presence always crossing the epoch making moments of her time. Incidentally, her own personal story is very interesting especially her relation with irresistible suave Mr. Salman Taseer ( our own charming Simi Garewal also dated him) and a very well-known author came to this world thanks to this brief affair- Atish Taseer who later based his bestselling memoir cum travelogue on this personal story.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Rebellious Heart

The Reluctant FundamentalistThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“’The reluctant fundamentalist” is everything except about a fundamentalist. I have read first time a book written by a Pakistani about a Pakistani in America. Only reading few pages was sufficient to take it off from the shelf and get it issued on my name and it did keep its promises till the last page. Narrated by the central character, entire novel revolves around him, his love interest, his American job and even American dream which gets fulfilled only to get unravelled afterwards due to that atrocious-notorious-whatever-you-call event in at least the American history: 9-11 attack. How the attack subconsciously and consciously affect an individual is what Mr. Mohsin Hamid, the author of the novel, strives to depict through his work and in such a believable manner. Changez, the central character, is a brilliant guy who has come to America to realize all those dreams he cannot do being in his own country or if I may say so in his own continent. American official stance of either-you-are-with-me-or-with-terrorists alienated many of his liberal supporters and planted the seed of mistrust among youths like Changez. As an Indian, I empathize with him when he invokes Asia, the mother continent and he ruffles few feather when he appears to be a bit more biased against India. But as a neutral literary reader, the novel provides enough moments to entertain us, educate us, engage us and above all help us grow neutral or even more positive views towards Pakistan, a country we are taught to loathe.

View all my reviews

Heart and Soul and Love

गुनाहों का देवता  / Gunahon Ka Devtaगुनाहों का देवता / Gunahon Ka Devta by Dharamvir Bharati (धर्मवीर भारती)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was proved wrong; "Gunahon Ka Devta" is not a crime novel, on the contrary, it is about more tender feelings and kinder characters. It is the story of love and sacrifice, societal norms and self-imposed boundaries, generational gaps and bridging them. For how long, lovers will be condemned to perpetual pining and sobbing on the altar of arranged marriage and respect for elders? The novel raises many such questions and strives to answer even few of them. No more such situation is prevalent in our society except enforced by few khap like institutions and hence the events do sometimes appear anachronistic. But the softness of unspoken feelings is timeless. It is there in the heart of Sudha and Chandar and this is what makes them memorable characters, ones we can relate to while we were their age. Dharmveer Bharti is a master of his craft and his prose is poetic, just like his poetry. In his foreword to the novel, he confesses inadequacies of this novel but we as a reader can afford to overlook them because of many of its positive aspects. Plot is taut and apt is the narrative style, never deviating from the core theme. His characters read Shelley and Browning and Keats. You can guess from where come all those romantic idealist thoughts to them! Understandably, his take on caste-based discrimination is very progressive. The landscape of the novel is dotted not only with lovelorn characters but also with pragmatic ones and counterbalances each other. I won’t say it is a must read but it is indeed a good read if you are interested in Hindi literature and are fond of the pursuit of the concept of an ideal love and the roads of Allahabad.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crossing the World of Mundane and Magical

Sputnik SweetheartSputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the surface, Sputnik Sweetheart is a study of sexuality, one of different types and shades – lesbianism, asexuality, heterosexuality and maybe more which might have escaped my notice. Like other works of Haruki, this one is also situated in cosmopolitan Japanese landscape which occasionally crosses boundaries and reaches Europe and other places but the most frequent trip is to the realm of fantasy, seemingly unreal, the other unseen side, beyond or inside the mirror. Together in the trip are music and books and exploration of what remains hidden behind the unconsciousness and sub-consciousness. Startling one may find it but the characters in the novel come to terms with it taking it as the way the cosmos operates! Be it Sumire or Miu or the unnamed narrator. Name is not even important. Just like when in the novel, a security guard shouts his full name, it does not generate any response whatsoever. Murakami has a command over transforming a mundane occurrence or event into something totally surreal and dream-like and vice-versa. Even an act of looking at your palm does not remain too familiar a thing to let it go. And this is what makes him different and makes us crave for him, pages after pages, and books after books.

View all my reviews