book review

White as milk and rice – A review

Book title – WHITE AS MILK AND RICE

Author – Nidhi Dugar Kundalia
Publisher – Penguin Random House India

No. Of pages – 241

Frankly, when I went for this book, my expectations were different. I don’t know why but I had thought that the book will have stories from mythology of the various tribes of India.

But once I had read through the introduction by the author, I grasped that it was going to be something totally different from my initial expectations.

There are six stories but each story takes you to a different territory in the vast expanse of India, ranging from the hills of South India, the chambal ravines in the west, the forests of Central India and finally culminating in the North East.

You peek into the ordinary lives of some extraordinary tribals and the back stories of the protagonists and their tribes enrich your knowledge of many aspects of their history. Their daily struggle to keep their unique culture alive amidst the all encompassing march of modern life is what enriches the stories to the next level.

By the time you reach the end of the book, you know something more about the Halakkis, the Kanjars, the Kurumbas, the Marias, the Khasis and the Konyaks. And wonder whether they have lost their heritage or are we, the so-called modern denizens of this world, the real losers.

The author injects charm and pathos into each story.

A Common thread which runs through all stories is how the tribals take only that much from the forest, as is required for survival and don’t exploit it for greed.

I must thank the author, Nidhi Dugar Kundalia, for staying in their midst for a long time and documenting a vanishing way of life, weaving charming stories and enriching us, the lay readers.

Yatindra Tawde

 

book review, humour

Vellagiri on FB – A book review

Book title – Vellagiri on FB

Author – Krishnan Seshan Iyer
Publisher – StoryMirror Infotech Pvt. LTD.
No. Of pages – 150

‘Expect the unexpected’ when you pick up this book because it is unlike any other. There are no short stories, it is not a novel nor is it a serious commentary. Instead it’s ‘Vellagiri’.

Now what is ‘Vellagiri’ someone may ask. It is a totally Mumbai lingo which the author has used so innovatively in his book title. ‘Vella’ comes from ‘Velle’ which is used for people wasting time, doing nothing. So, ‘Vellagiri’ is a tongue in cheek reference to the author sharing his treasure trove of quotable quotes on FB to the benefit of his immense friend circle. And now we, the mango people, can equally enjoy the fun.

Now, why do I say it is a treasure trove of quotable quotes? Well, for that, open this book and start reading.

Whoever said only famous personalities are capable of quotable quotes have not met the author, Krishnan Seshan Iyer. His quotes arise from his intrinsic scathing sense of humour and a sharp mind honed over the years in the Corporate law field. He is blessed with an ability to critique and capable of giving ‘Jor ka jhatka, dheere se…’ and sometimes not so ‘dheere se’ at all. You may not necessarily agree with him, but please do enjoy the sarcastic humour while you are at it.

And for those who cannot do without FB, here’s a quotable quote from the book, ‘I just realized that MZ is my wife – keeps reminding me of things I said a few years back!’

So guys and gals, go for this book. Let me assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

A Book review : Tea with a drop of honey

Book title : Tea with a drop of honey by The Hive

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

Tea with a drop of honey is an anthology of short stories by 28 different authors so you can be assured about the variety on offer. As is the wont for The Hive, this anthology gets a smashing foreword by Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Founder & CEO, Women’s Web.

The anthology opens with a beautiful love story, Not so Parsi Love, a story of love overcoming the religious divide.

Coming to my most favourite story in this anthology, The Heimlich Manoeuvre, I loved how the author has woven a humorous situation around the national lockdown.

Another story which stayed with me is My Big Fat Punjabi Divorce, a tale of a Punjabi family putting aside their petty differences and supporting their daughter/sister. I wouldn’t want to reveal more, do read the story…

To Sculpt a dream is a story which took me back in history and the setting is magical, with a profound message hidden in it.

  Cup of Tea for the Misfit Two beautifully weaves a fairy tale-like love story around the title of the book and was entertaining.

Much Ado about nothing is an audacious and hilarious prequel to a very famous love story,by the author and she succeeds in entertaining the readers.

Raz’on de Ser is a surefire tearjerker of a love story which tugs at the heartstrings.

Table number 9 is as philosophical as they come, with some great quotes. 

The Murphy Conundrum surprised me with a mixture of genres and leaves you with a feel good feeling at the end.

The other stories are entertaining too and you must read Tea with a drop of honey to know still more hidden gems.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

The Vedas and Upanishads for children – A book review

Book title : The Vedas and Upanishads for children

Author : Roopa Pai

Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd.

No. of pages: 410

Let there be no doubt about it, The Vedas and Upanishads are no simple subjects that anyone and everyone can attempt writing about them. First of all, they are so ancient; second, they are originally written in the ancient language of the Indian subcontinent, Sanskrit. This language has very few current aficionados. Third, there are quite a few translations available, from the 19th century to quite recent, where, not everyone has managed to capture the true gist of those great works. 

However the author, Roopa Pai has studied the best among them like the works of Bibek and Dipavali Debroy, Swami Vivekananda, S. Radhakrishnan, Sri M and many others. Please refer to the select bibliography at the end of the book.

Studying is only half the battle won. Interpreting it for the target audience, who are the teenagers, and keeping it interesting enough throughout the entire length of the book is a stupendous achievement. 

And mind you, this book is not only for teenagers, though written in a language they understand. Those who have only a cursory knowledge of the Vedas and Upanishads, like yours truly, will find it equally interesting and wonderous. I mean, those ancient rishis and sages really developed some profound thoughts which acted as guiding principles to innumerable generations. 

Like the author says, there might be parts of the Vedas and Upanishads that you will love and others which you don’t feel comfortable with. Just take from them the useful and illuminating lessons and set the rest aside. Even those ancient sages are not asking you to believe everything they have said but exhorting you to think for yourself.

Speaking for myself, I felt those sages certainly had a scientific bent of mind, the way they thought and tried to unravel answers to some very fundamental questions. They sought to inspire people to seek the truth for themselves. Of course, the science of those times may not have been so advanced (though many would disagree) that few of those ideas would be relevant in today’s age too, but you can’t deny that the methodology they employed is still applicable. You might think I have said something preposterous, but read this book and then form your own opinion.

Hats off to Roopa Pai for attempting to communicate in simple language, the very difficult and sometimes confusing world of the Vedas and Upanishads. She says that the old, old answers of the Upanishads are among the most convincing, for a significant number of people still swear by them. So grab this book to find out more!

Totally recommended.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

A fallen leaf – a book review

Book title – A fallen leaf

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

No. Of pages – 132

A Fallen leaf is a collection of 15 short stories by 15 different writers. True to its title, there are various aspects to each story but all dwelling upon myriad emotions. 

After a fall, whether it is a physical fall or an emotional one, it is the inherent nature of a human being to try and get up and move on. 

The anthology is a combination of stories of hope, of romance, of drama and some comic. Some stories connect with the reader instantly whereas some need time to savour them.

I will start with my favourite one; All for the blossoms by Em Kay which tells the story of a protagonist who spares his valuable time for the most important person in his life and how this gesture enriches both their lives.

A mosaic on the Garden floor by Sharanya Mishra is a story told from the point of view of a fallen maple leaf, as it flies from the life of one family to another, each facing it’s own challenges, some facing them with strength while some breaking down.

Two Pilgrims by Rham Dhel is a thought provoking story of two Pilgrims coming from opposite social background. Read it to savour it’s message of living in tune with nature, of becoming one with it.

Refugee by Kaushik Mujumdar is gut wrenching, highlighting the futility of war where no one is the winner.

Varied Moods, Varied Seasons by Sitharaam Jayakumar is a take on seasons where parallels are drawn with the human life which moves from good times to not so good times and the importance of maintaining sustainable relationships with near and dear ones.

The Mis(fit) by Saravjot Hansrao highlights the importance of having confidence in one’s own abilities irrespective of outward appearances when you are being subjected to body shaming.

Hope by Srikant Singha Ray is a story of overcoming one’s own fears.

The funeral by Nilutpal Gohain, contrary to its title is a comic take on a generally serious situation.

Behind the Bars by Kajal Kapur captures the fatalistic emotional state of life behind bars through the eyes of two inmates.

The other stories in this anthology  are good too and overall the anothology achieves what it set out to do.

The poems composed by Olinda Braganza to introduce each story are an added attraction in, ‘A fallen leaf, for the poetry enthusiasts.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Tales with a Twist – A book review

Title – Tales with a Twist

An Anthology of short stories

Author – Varadharajan Ramesh

No. Of pages – 64

If you love stories with unexpected twists, look no further. Though this Anthology is the Author’s first published one, you can easily discern that he is no amateur.

There are 17 stories on varied subjects but each story succeeds in its own way, where the ending is quite unexpected though at the same time,  logical. In some of the stories, the twist made me curious to re-read the story and understand how the author has set it up for an unexpected ending. 

I won’t be reviewing each of the 17 stories but some, which made me go, ‘Oh, wow!’

It starts with a bang with ‘Repairing Cushions’ which brings a smile to your face when the reason for having this uncommon title becomes apparent at the end of the story.

‘Innocence’ says many things in so few words and certainly hits the nail on its head. A hard-hitting message there.

‘Dependent’ is a story of many families which shocks you with an unexpected ending.

Then I must mention my most favourite story in this Anthology, ‘The Troubles of Time Travel’ where two gentlemen argue and debate most seriously and scientifically on the possibility of Time Travel only to reveal the most mundane of reasons at the end. I loved the author’s thought process in constructing this story and his very obvious interest in time travel.

‘Good Ol’ Coop’ seems to be one story but when it ends it is a totally different one and gives a stark glimpse into what might happen if the usual human food supply dries up and the drastic solutions a man could think up, to survive.

‘Lonely’ is another story with a science background, this time on the loneliness of space.

‘Ultra’ captures the mindless violence indulged in by sports fans without any thought to the consequences.

All in all, an excellent read.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Death at midnight – A book review

Book title – Death at midnight

Author – Dr. Manoj Paprikar

Publisher – #ArtoonsInn Room9

No. Of pages – 167

Death at midnight is a medical thriller set in a town near Nashik, Maharashtra. It is a story of a Doctor couple who get caught up in unfortunate circumstances.

Though it starts slowly with the author introducing the various characters, it soon captures your attention as soon as the Doctor decides to take up a difficult pregnancy case even after knowing that the woman has been brought late and time is running out to save both, the mother and child. He takes fast decisions to retrieve the situation after involving the father, but still tragedy strikes.

This unleashes a wave of misfortune on the Doctor couple, when the father’s influential friend indulges in goondaism inside the hospital. During this mayhem the Doctor is grievously injured.

The novel captures today’s trend in india, of patient’s relatives attacking doctors if the treatment doesn’t work and there is loss of life. 

It also captures the media trials where the media usually paints a negative image of the doctors, all in the name of social responsibility but which is nothing but a race for garnering highest TRP’s.

It  brings into focus the Nexus between politicians and media and the extent to which they will go for their mutual benefits. All this at the expense of responsible doctors and the common citizens.

Yes, there are some doctors in the real world who would put their patients life in danger for extra bucks. But which profession doesn’t have black sheep? It does not mean that every doctor is dishonest. In fact, majority of the doctors are very responsible.

The author has written a story of hope which is a recommended read for all doctors as well as the general public to understand such social issues from the doctors point of view. Especially those doctors who sacrifice their personal and family life for their patients heath. 

An apt book to read in these pandemic times, when you see the entire medical world working selflessly and tirelessly, putting their own lives at risk.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Ebook review : Bhumi

Bhumi : A review

EBook title : Bhumi

Author : Tina Sequeira

When I came to know that Tina Sequeira has published her own ebook, ‘Bhumi’, I had to add it to my e-library. Tina is a multi-talented writer, a winner of Rashtriya Gaurav Award in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘Author of the year’ (2019) and many more.

Here’s my humble review of ‘Bhumi’.

All stories are of strong women or who became strong as they faced various gender-related challenges in their lives. Of women who fight various kinds of societal pressures. 

I recommend all men to read this book to understand the range of challenges women go through, irrespective of whether the women are from the top most rungs of society or from the lowest. And I recommend all women to read this book to keep their morale high when facing such challenges, as each story is a learning experience.

The very first story, ‘Amma’ grabs you by your tear-ducts, if that is possible. Its an ode to a woman, a mother, a wife. Anything more and I would have to include a spoiler alert.

‘Stark illusions’ captures the dark underbelly of any city, where women are used and thrown by lusty men. It’s hard-hitting and stark and makes you reflect.

‘Third time lucky’ is a short one but packs a punch.

Then comes my favourite one, ‘Grey’. Why is it my favourite? In addition to reading an engaging story, it took me to the beautiful landscapes of God’s own country, Kerala, it’s exquisitely tasty cuisine and the warm, hospitable people. Loved the cute and strict Ammamma too much. It also talks of an innocent, old world childhood which switched on, my own memories. And though I am a Maharashtrian, I love the Kerala way of life and it’s warm, friendly people.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall’ brings with it the horrors of acid attack and the possessive, deranged minds of the perpetrators of such attacks. At the same time, it also shows the strength of the victim in overcoming all obstacles and triumphing over them. Hard hitting!

‘First Lady’ starts like any other Saas-bahu battle and then gives a very touching message. And the author has managed to find humour in those situations which could be so difficult for a less accomplished writer. 

‘Saira’ captures the challenges faced by a free-spirited girl and how she overcomes them to live life on her own terms.

‘Juxtaposition’ is of another strong woman who makes decisions, whether grey or white, and doesn’t feel guilty about them.

‘Fire and Ice’ begins like any other teenage love story but basically a story of the woman. She lives her life as a docile woman for a larger part of life, but takes strong decisions when destiny demands.

‘Climax’ is very effective in putting across the message that when a woman says ‘no’  it means ‘NO’, whatever the circumstances.

‘Unbridled’ is a story  of two friends who make opposite choices in their lives and still find happiness, irrespective of those choices.

‘Fat chance’ is another one of my favourites where the protagonist finds her own path in all the madness of body-shaming indulged in by family, friends and the society in general.

‘Pound of flesh’ highlights the discrimination a woman faces irrespective of religion.

‘Switch’ talks about the progress women have made over generations and a positive outlook for the current generation. It also talks about imparting the right ideals to the new generation. 

‘Bhumi’ is a story of a woman who looks after her family without any expectations, almost ignored during better part of her life and how the family realises her importance only when she falls seriously ill. But the story ends positively.

To summarise, Tina Sequeira has written a masterpiece which is recommended for everyone.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Hawk’s Nest : An Introduction

Book title : Hawk’s Nest

Author : Assorted, includes myself

Pages : 211

Hawk’s Nest is an anthology of brilliant short stories in various genres, brought to you by Room 9 : ArtoonsInn. 

This room is dedicated to inhouse publications by ArtoonsInn.

Something about ArtoonsInn –

ArtoonsInn is a virtual inn lead by its dynamic CEO, Mithru Rachamalla and his equally dedicated team. It is a platform for Artists of various kinds to gather under one roof.

The members of ArtoonsInn are called Artoons and I am proud to be one of them. In fact, I have been associated with ArtoonsInn right from their first event, a story writing competition.

About Hawk’s Nest –

It is an anthology of 16 stories of varied genres written by some of the leading writers of the inn. 

I am fortunate that one of my stories, Providential Encounter, was selected to grace the pages of Hawk’s Nest.

Providential Encounter is an emotional story of a lonely man in his old age struggling to come to terms with an decision taken in rage.

I hope you like it as well as all the other astounding stories of Hawk’s Nest.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Jai’s Assorted Tales : A review

EBook title : Jai’s Assorted Tales

Author : Sitharaam Jayakumar

Pages : 102

I always love to support new, promising writers and Sitharaam is one of them. His writing journey mirrors mine when he says that he started writing his blog a few years back while working in the corporate sector.

These are nice, short stories which will surely regale you. 

The Section 1 which is in the Horror/Thriller category is the best part of the book. What especially grabbed my attention, is the subtle twist in the tale at the end. 

Played for a sucker and An Unspoiled Girl, are my favourites, precisely for that reason.

However, having same names of protagonists in consecutive stories which are not related to each other, might cause confusion in the mind. 

The other stories in this section are also good.

Section 2 is Science Fiction / Humour. In this, the protagonists names like Captain Haddock, Din Din and Professor Candyfloss Calculus will trigger some pleasant childhood memories.

Section 3 is Science Fiction / Public Welfare, Section 4 is Science Fiction / Miscellaneous and Section 5 is General, which have some thought provoking stories.

This is the author’s fourth book and is good for some light reading. Some of the stories in this book can be developed further into bigger short stories by the Author, especially from Section 1. Thriller/Horror seems to be a genre which is the Author’s strong point.

Other Books by  Sitharaam Jayakumar –

Eighty  Hours To Save  Karen 

The Krishnapur  Kidnappings 

A  To  Z  Of  Men  And  Women  Who  Excelled  In Sports