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

book review, Uncategorized

Can we change?

One of my friends, Priyadarshan Shete says, “When progess of the nation is equated with quantum of cars sold, factories running at 100% capacity etc nothing better should be expected.”

This set me thinking, that yes, the progress of a nation is always the number of cars sold, factories running day and night to produce products which might or might not really be the essentials of life.

So if any positive change is to be seen, what parameters will be important to measure a country’s progress. Can we move from consumption driven economy to a sustainable economy? 

Here are a few parameters –

 

  1. Organic farming – it is being practiced but in pockets. Can efforts be made to make it more prevalent and popular? How can we replace chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers like compost manure or green manure? In such farming it is very important to follow the practice of crop rotation and companion planting. 

Crop rotation – it is a practice for growing different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. In this case the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. This reduces soil erosion and increases crop yield. While companion planting is growing different kinds of crops in close proximity which results in increase in crop productivity.

I feel, the above two practices in agriculture can go a long way in rolling back the damage due to the usage of chemical fertilizers.

2.Going further, it will be more important to strengthen the medical field, yes, maybe more than the military. How many hospitals per 1000 citizens will be and should be a very important parameter.

3. Agriculture itself should replace manufacturing industry as an essential field for measuring a country’s progress. Number of hectares under productive cultivation should be more important than the numbers of any non-essential product produced.

 4.Since man needs cars and trucks for personal and goods transportation, these have to be produced. But we will need to fast track the electric transportation to reduce dependence on crude oil. In turn this will reduce air pollution. 

5. Eliminate the torture of animals and birds. This is one of the tasks requiring lots of planning and different methods of implementation as a huge lot of humans eat them for sustenance. The biggest culprit has been converting it into an industry where the animals and birds are treated in the most obnoxious manner.

6  Same is the case with the dairy industry. In both these cases, it was the need for fast availability and huge quantities, that drove both industries to this blatant exploitation. Both these should never have been an industry, but no one is ready to wait patiently for their piece of pie.

7.Make poaching a non-bailable offence with the strictest punishment. Why should somebody’s body part become your accessory or aphrodisiac?

8. And there might be many such steps which can be taken to make Earth liveable again.

But will anyone pay attention to this once the present danger diminishes. I am no expert but a common layman and most would just laugh this off.

However I have no doubt that whoever takes the leadership position to change the world for the better will be the leader of the future.

Yatindra Tawde

 

book review

Hiraeth – A book review

The first image that captures your attention is the apt artistic rendition of the message the author wants to convey. The tree symbolises the Indian subcontinent, rooted in the same culture but the ripped apart into two countries by a sudden cataclysmic event.

As you read the stories, you are drawn into the lives of ordinary human beings, pushed into facing sudden extraordinary circumstances.

If there are obnoxiously creepy individuals, trying to take undue advantage of unfortunate situations, there are people who have not lost their humanity in the face of the difficult times.

If there are people who lost their sanity, there are individuals who clung to some hope even in those trying times.

But finally these are heart rending stories of the common man whose destiny was so mercilessly turned upside down by fickle politicians looking for their self-aggrandizement.

As you read the stories, you cannot but admire the high level of research, the author, Dr. Shivani Salil, must have undertaken to meet such affected individuals and families who were caught in the turmoil of that unfortunate event of partition of a great country on the basis of religion.

I recommend this book for all those who were far removed from this page of history, especially the young generation which is separated by the many decades of freedom.

Yatindra Tawde

book review, Uncategorized

Driftwood – A book review

If you have lived at sea you will immediately identify the trials and tribulations a Seaman goes through, which the author captures so well. And even if you have not, you are bound to admire the word play and the impeccable story telling skills of a master story teller.

In this paperback of 12 stories, my top 3 are “Sapphire Blue”, “Transition” and “Stairway to Heaven” and the others follow close behind. There is something in them for all types of readers, those who love reading adventure or romance or intrigue.

From the very first story, “The Piano Man”, the author takes you on a rollercoaster ride and believe me, the book is unputdownable.

Even though the stories are not connected to each other, a common thread runs through it. The Sea is the real hero and the human working on that wide expanse of water, is but a slave of sentiment, lust, greed or plain love, who is trying to make the best out of the given circumstances.

So readers, go for this cruise on the seas with the Captain, the author of this gem.

Yatindra Tawde