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The Devil and Miss Prym

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We humans are mere an instrument of God who bestows his temptations, his love, and his burden upon us. On the other hand stands there is Devil. A gritty and shrewd competitor of God. In classical age, they were tied together with phonograms: Devils and Angels. When the wrangle between the two prevailing super powers heats up, humans fall prey to the circumstances, losing their integrity, solidarity and above all losing their selves, serving as a tool, like movie characters, to emblem the occult struggle. The book “The Devil and Miss Prym” struggles with the same heat, turmoil, despair and bleakness that shadows everything when Devils ploy against Angels.

Humans! A strange creature with all his ability to think and analyze. What is he? Good? Or, bad? This is the trial here. Which side he is at? Devils? Or, angels? This is the ordeal here.

In a small village, Viscos, rotten of their children, their money and of any possible adventure; predictable and programmed; ethnic and settled; a stranger comes in with Devil accompanying him. He was betrayed by the God and angels, or at least he feels such, or rather Devil has made him feel such. Whatever! Berta, who was told by her long died husband about this misfortune asking him to keep vigil, recognized him at once. But, what can an old woman of such an age could do? Except, probably, musing over and succumbing to her destiny. Nothing to worry, though! In the flock of 281 habitants, destiny had its agent, Miss Prym, to carry the burden. Stranger, himself lost to evil, has a strong desire to find if humans, as a whole, as the most evolved race, are corrupt, devoid of morality and ethics. And he throws a strange bite: grotesque at first, acceptable eventually. Would the villagers, his fellow humans, act as he want? Or, would they deny? Would they revolt? This is a struggle to rise above the rubbles of past, threats of evil and temptations of bad.

Paulo once again writes an inspiring fiction, quintessential of the fight we confront each passing day and night, filled with didactic one-liners and a finale moral. A worth reading book, which opens up new windows and verbalizes the age old mystique.

Written by Animesh

July 8, 2005 at 12:10 am

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The Alchemy of Desire

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book7A writer goes haywire very often especially when he confronts some very difficult time at his personal front. But this “block” doesn’t stop him from plotting the situations around – as if he is writing a novel – he creates characters, shapes them, manicures them, evolves them and while doing so somewhere somehow he too becomes a part of the novel – smugly thinking of himself a nexus sufficient to complement the lacunae of his own world. But he forgets that thinking can activate one’s brain; it can’t make things move. It can shield one from the mortality. But it can’t deny the reality. It can’t incite the motion. And he forgets it very often. A writer is someone who probes into things in order to phrase it. And forgetfulness is a bane to him.

But, there lies the catch. Does he really forget? Or, is it just what he refrains himself to remember. He is selective and very smart at picking up things he needs. Then, why does he fall pray to the universe? I read it somewhere about the art of an unattached living. It said: Live but don’t expect to live. Ironical? Isn’t it? Just put yourself for a second on a boat amid the tempestuous river. Would you just live that rage without expecting to live afterwards? And if you try expecting, which anyhow you can’t cease, would you become less worthy, less spiritual, less human, less “respectable”? I wonder. The universe has weaved a complex world around us where to fathom even a minutest purpose proves to be an enigma. It is not the fault of the universe. This is perhaps what it was designed to do. What lacked is the scarcity of writers who could frame words around the world to make it simpler and probably easier too. The journey of a writer is a difficult one. Because, he knows everything at the same time. He knows what his characters are going to play; how the world is going to progress; how the story is going to end. He knows everything. And this knowledge proves fatal to his progress as he confronts “writers’ block”. A block which is a “black hole” – nothing can peep inside; noting can surmise.

This is exactly what Tarun J. Tejpal has tried to emblem in his debut novel “The Alchemy of Desire” which is a very long story though, but along with its length, it has the hardest effect too.

It is a journey of a book crossing the stairs of love, sex, desire and ambition. A story of a man, whose true métier is nothing but writing and writing and more writing; whose wife is his only oasis; whose love is his only refugee; and whose pen is his only sword. This 518 pages tome promises to take you behind the papers and inkblots of a book depicting the exasperation and desperation of a writer. And guess who might have bestowed his words upon this debutant knock? None other than the Nobel laureate V. S. Naipaul who considers it as a first true quintessential of India’s English writing.

Here is a man who loves his wife intensely and loves his writing even more. He finds support in his wife. He starts off. Then some financial hiccups. And then some personal. Until, he realizes that “Love is not the glue between two people, sex is.” And then, “the flawed nature of selfless love: to be charitable only when one’s need if fulfilled.” And he renounces his wife. The refugee lost and the desert awaited, he finds an old diary of a dead woman. And he is again live. There, the journey begins.

Was it wrong? The alchemy might reveal the truth to you provided you dare to persevere up to the end. And His fault? He is a writer. And an escapist too. And above all, He understands his moves. He knows everything and that sucks. Phew!!!

Written by Animesh

July 2, 2005 at 12:08 am

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The Alchemist

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book6 What is a dream? No, don’t go to the Great Sigmund Freud seeking explanation and emblem to it. I am asking about your dream. Your own “personal Myth”. Your share in the soul of the universe. Leave philosophies, shun logics and abandon reasons. And then, dream. What you see is your destiny. Your desire. Something that is preserved for you. Something that awaits you. And here is a fable, full of wisdom and simplicity and symbolisms, to make you believe in the impossible that you had once dreamed of but couldn’t dare to pursue.

Paulo’s poetic writing and gritty optimism had made this book “The Alchemist” one of the largest sold novels in the recent history. The mystique and simplicity goes hand-in-hand. God made everything simple, so simple that even a grain of sand can reveal the entire history of the world; but men have a mania to complicate everything; and they endeavor voraciously in evolving an “enigma” out of everything. But at the heart, life remains simple. This is the message of the author.

The story of the treasure-hunt passes through the labyrinth of destiny and omens that helped Santiago, the lead character, tracing out the laid path. He had a dream. A dream that told him about his treasure buried faraway in the pyramids beyond the impassable desert of Africa. He believed and ventured for daring risks. It’s not in the destination that your treasure lies, it is laid all along in the path that your heart longs to follow. So follow you heart; because it is always right; because it suffers; and because it cares; because it has come from the soul of the universe and it is exactly where it will go back.

“Everything has been written on the soul of the world by the same hands” says the Alchemist revealing all secrets in a single line. Alchemist is a person who understands the nature and its language. He is the one who has found the pristine core that runs life into every creation of the universe. The external form may differ, but at the core every thing is same – the elixir of life which cures all the evil. So if, you have found something that is pure, not like an impulse of volcano, you have found your treasure.

Every journey that takes a man to his destiny and fills him with enough courage to renounce everything he possess is a part of the future that he lives in present. And the future is his dream. “When you desire something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve that.” says the alchemist. Because, what you dream today would later become a part of your future, a part of your destiny. So, a traveler of dream has not to worry for the path but preserve to meet the target for the path would be laid and revealed through the conspiracy.

What if you realize your dream? What next would you do? The author explains the enigmatic and oracular fear of dreamlessness, too, that keeps men from chasing their belief. He says that we and everything else are subject to evolution, striving for betterment and perfection. Hence, if you heed your heart and the omens you would evolve; and by evolving yourself you would help the universe to evolve for you are a part of it and it is a part of you too.

Sometimes, on the way, you see the vision that pushes you further. And sometimes, you want to settle down and accept things as they come not due to lack in courage but for the feeling of contentment. And this happens when you fear losing something precious, something pure like the soul of the world. Santiago met Fatima, a woman of desert, and fell in love. Love here was a direct nexus between them revealing through their eyes, “because eyes show your soul” and because the whole universe had conspired in their meeting. He felt an immediate urge to stop the hunt and settle down to lead a happy life. The alchemist, then, took the command and explained the monotony of the possible life, a frustration after the denial of “principle of favorability” and persuaded him to have faith in what he had found. Moreover, everything is written on the soul of the world and it will remain there for ever and ever. And love never stopped a man to pursue his destiny. Neither did Fatima.

This is a brilliant novel talking about simple things of life that people have forgotten like, love, traditions, god, and omen and above all dreams. It has a great inspirational power to live the moment, the present and the path abetting you become daring enough to risk for a belief. “And, if a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know, there is only one thing that makes it impossible to achieve: the fear of failure” says the Alchemist.


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Written by Animesh

June 20, 2005 at 12:03 am

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Eleven Minutes

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book5I am not sure what but there is something in this man, Paulo Coelho that makes him think out of the blue. Read his books, I mean any of them, and you will confront your own secret demons who were always there lurking inside you but you could never have them such vocal. His writing has the power to inspire and sometimes to conspire. This time, he has come up all along the universe to conspire in helping a young, beautiful and gritty but yet sensitive woman from the interiors of Brazil as she takes on with her own destiny only to concede later.

The title is “Eleven Minutes”. In case you are wondering what the title could hint for, let me tell you more about the story to help you out: Once upon a time, there was a girl in a small town in Brazil. She wanted to become famous and different and rich and happy and content – all at the same time. There entered a show-man from the Swiss-glamour-industry and she went with him following her dreams of money and fame.

But what did she find? A confusion – if violence is a way to reach one’s limit? If one can know oneself only at the edge? If violence can help in reaching hallowed? Whether sex is divine or curse?

What happened next was a pool of misery, confusion, confrontation and love and of course sex. This book is a journey – a journey through a woman’s heart touching her soul. And this is special because never before any one had ever tried seeing the immortal soul passing through the boundaries of the mortal body. Because, it is a reverse journey. The duration allowed is of only eleven minutes, but the destination demands more. How would she cope with it? Would she concede or fight?

Paulo has the same ‘The Alchemist’ style magic all ready to rekindle you and your thoughts. But, instead of framing it like an allegory, he prefers it saying like fairy tales though he claims that the story is a true.

This book has History – tracing the lost lacuna of love, Psychology – threading the human confusion and Love – speaking for itself. But beware, this is a daring step and would try to break many of your prejudices that you inured to while growing in a society like ours.

If it succeeds it’s good; and it not then the entailing debate would make it worse for you to believe that Love is not different from Sex.

Written by Animesh

June 16, 2005 at 12:01 am

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Taj – A story of mughal india

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Only let this one teardrop, the Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time for ever and ever…

-Rabindranath Tagore

“The past is the prologue to the future.” The novel – violent, erotic, romantic, and sacrificial all in varied dosage in various chapters – starts with a didactic phrase that enchants a romantic saga lost in the silence of eternity visible only with an immortal emblem called the Taj Mahal.

There is a small allegory we read in primary school about the Taj: Once upon a time there was a king Shah Jahan who loved his queen, Mumtaj Mahal, very dearly and when she died he built a mausoleum, Mumtaj Mahal – that after years of rusting against time and people left to be known only as Taj Mahal, in her remembrance where eventually she was buried. But behind-and-beneath this sacred love there was a sacrilegious politics-and-power of great Moghul which ran on the principle of “Taktya Takhta” (Throne or coffin). The age of kingship, the kingship has no kinship- as the author says, must have affected the barrage of this eternal love as it was channelized through. This book is an attempt to wipe out the dust of the past to see the gleam and grief of the lovers. The author, Timeri N. Murari, has done a wonderful job in bringing the fact and the fiction together as he weaves the story through the adventurous history. And excitedly enough, he chooses an unusual but classical style of narration. Even numbered chapters (The Love Story) chronicle the age between 1607 and 1630 AD depicting the love story tormented by the politics; while the odd numbered chapters (The Taj Mahal) talk of the time between 1632-66 AD when the monument was built with 20,000 labors working day-and-night. The edge between past and present blurs as the legend builds up.

Shah Jahan, son of the Emperor Jahan Gir, falls in love with a noble man’s daughter Arjumand at a very tender age. But the destiny, the throne and the kins were all set against the union. They suffered for 5 long years before they could marry and this much-depressed passion found a new body-cal path to evolve and the queen was bestowed with 14 children in a very little duration of their marriage. And eventually, she died during gestation at only 35 – Sex played a superior role in their hallowed love. Another major player was Mehrunissa (Nur Jahan) who plotted un-conspicuously to perch on the throne. Besides, there is Isa – the only witness-cum-messenger of the flourishing love and the most favored eunuch of Arjumand and a trusted attendant of Shah Jahan. In the later half, there is a couple Murthi and Sita – mysteriously employed – sent by their king to help building the Taj together with 20,000 other labors from all over the world.

They all have a special tale to tell. But the beauty of the book lies in the connection the author connects all-of-them with. The lady-love who was long caged inside the grandiloquent building gets a fresh breath as people remind her first name “Arjumand” while her man vanishes to fog and her malignant hard-liner Islamist son Aurangzeb succeeds to power.

So, is it a history book? “No” says the author, “It made me so mad, their vision of India, especially in America, is limited to the Taj Mahal. I promised to write about it in my next book if only they’d remove it from the cover of my book at that time. Once I started researching, the story became absolutely fascinating and so tragic that I got taken up by it. I’ve enjoyed writing this I book the most.”

With all the flaws of love and with all the astute advancements of politics this book promises a journey through the perpetuity offering reader a chance to witness the past that never was such candid.

Written by Animesh

June 3, 2005 at 11:55 pm

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No Guns at my son’s funeral

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book3Kashmir! Is it a paradise? Or a perdition? Or is it just an illusionary fallacy to people like you and me? Every time, when Kashmir appears in newspapers, it carries its inevitable curse bloating its very significance of once ago heaven. So, How about the people there? What is their life all about? Is it different from the rest or is peculiar for the guns that shed their dreams, aspirations and above all their destiny? Mirage! Or, bliss?

Puro Anand, in her thirteenth book “No Guns at my son’s funeral”, strives to find the lost answers. She has a fable, not a fairy one though, a raw reality that takes you on a journey through the Eden valleys, depicting every slip of it naked and provoking. This is a story of a boy, who was supposed to be innocent and sinless which he faithfully pretends behind a dour veil of a dangerously dubious life, who is just a next door kid, unless it gets dark outside because then, he mingles with the vultures of darkness only to make the paradise – his own heaven – gory. This story has ‘Aftab’ (the protagonist), his mentor ‘Akram’ and his sister ‘Sazia’.

Aftab hero-worships his mentor and is very eager or perhaps desperate to earn a respectable place, a place of a man, in his eyes. Akram is a terrorist, shrewd, scheming and calculative who lives only to kill. He says “I kill because I love it.” Aftab has a small family: a caring and suspicious mother, a demanding younger brother, an overtly outrageous father, and persuading Sazia who is dramatically mysterious and secretive. Besides, he has one other family –a family of terrorists. And he lives torn between them, harboring love for one and awe for another. Each has its temptation. Each has its repercussion. Which way he chose to? Or rather, he didn’t really choose but fell prey to the circumstances? “The cause lives on” supports Sazia. Perhaps, he just conflated with the cause assuming it holy and must. Ah! How easy it is to drive men?

And, together, they, the depraved trinity, weave equations to resonate with echoes of the valley: Jehad…

Puro Anand’s candid tale incites an awesome trance of complexity raised beyond the rubbles of simplicity – a rare, mundane simplicity. Here, life means blood. And you got to behave “MAN” by not doing it differently but by doing entirely different. Her simple and eloquent words iterate the helplessness and inutility of one who is lost to false dreams, to false hands.

More than anything else, this is a story of a mother who lost her son; a sister who lost her brother; a wife who lost her man and a ‘movement’ that has forsaken its métier to the cannons of fire. And with so many mothers of valley, mourning their sons, this whaling saga effectively connects with reality, growing from a small, unknown suburb in Kashmir to toll a national alarm asking “whose fault was it?”

The book primarily targets teens but adults, at least the ignorant ones, must read it once for sometimes reality reincarnates into fallacy. And by the time, we understand, it might be too late.

This book is a kind of a “reality fiction” that renders an undone cause assaying its abandoned attention. From all of us?

Can we save our paradise from guns? Can we? … Would the cause live on?

Written by Animesh

May 27, 2005 at 11:49 pm

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FiVe Point Someone – Chetan Bhagat

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5point“This is the only that I ever did in IIT. It is my passion, my sweat, and my belief. No, how could I give it up?”

So far, all we know about IITs is their righteous greatness, tall achievements and other so called elating panegyrics like IITians-are-the-best. Getting into IIT is like a dream-come-true for many. For? For the assured success ahead backed up by the brand IIT itself and one added fillip is its eminent alumnus. Pick any big multinational company and you would find at least three IITians among the top ten there. It’s a mecca of engineers. True to its stature IITs do imbue a sharp edge into its disciples through its stringent, disciplined and demanding pedagogy but one thing that we almost have never thought of is the life about staying there. How is it?Fun, drama, awe and excitement? Chetan Bhagat (author – himself a graduate from IIT-Delhi) has a different say. As per him, it’s about pressure, assignments, lectures, GPAs and above all mugging up to the throat if you want a certain job later and recognition among Profs through. But, as the two sided coin has it, IITs too have it there – people like, Hari, Ryan and Alok.

There are two kinds of creatures in the menagerie of IITs. First are of type Vekatesh, a respectable figure among IIT Profs, sitting in front of the lecture auditorium while second are the underperformers (the protagonists of the Book), unimportant entities with negligible GPAs, who prefer to avoid limelight by filling up the last rows. This story is about the condemned underperformers – their ventures, their philosophies, their life, their friendship and their love. “…it is not just a praise-filled work about IIT. It is more real – and real life doesn’t work that way” Says the author.

The story starts with a ragging scene where Ryan saves two of his wing-mates from a horrendous coca-cola event only to discover a true friendship among them later. They fall prey to the trap of GPA system – which once screwed offers no further chance to improvements – mustering enough reasons for them to grow intimate. Besides, they were in the same department – Mechanical Engineering. Soon, after continuous failures, they harbor an inexplicable hate for the system that, according to them, allows no room for originality and creativity, and ploy against it. Some ripples and they take a vital decision of procuring the question papers. Why do they do it? How do they do it? This manoeuvre makes it an interesting read. Author promises a hilarious journey through – the ups and downs of their lives for the entire four years. To add a pink tinge to its flavor, we have a female lead Neha, daughter of Prof Cherian – who coincidently happens to be the Head of the Mechanical department. No! It’s not a written version of “MOHABATEIN” or “DIL CHAHTA HAI”. It’s different. Not merely because of the brand IIT but because of the “witticism” and the “marvelous one-liners” of the author that took him more than 3 years to compile.

This book doesn’t teach you how to get into IITs rather tells about the myths associated with it. The author says, “The primary idea of this book is to entertain the reader. The genre is humor, and it attempts to bring the reader back into their college days where money was scarce, friends were plenty and even when facing deep life issues – you were having fun.” His attempt goes unquestionably successful. IITians might be the study-freaks of the greatest kind but some of them are – indeed – normal and this escapade appropriately bolsters this opinion.

It’s a fun book. Anyone who has seen the hostel life would be able to relate with the story. This book scores well in dealing with the insight of adolescent temptations but leaves some questions un-answered. Perhaps, to urge reader to dwell more in it!

Besides all quipping, the book comes with a moral. Think Stright and never stop making friends. You might discover something precious. Who knows?

Written by Animesh

May 19, 2005 at 11:45 pm

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By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

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pauloIt is said that there is a small difference between fiction and reality – the former has to make sense. Dwelling into the cryptic reality, which itself is a vague concept, fiction has to choose precious gems to stand guard of its very own purpose. Given the boundaries and possible temptations, fictional sayings often tend to digress, and hence go redundant into the literary paraphernalia. The mid way between the extremes is the only path to ‘Santiago’, to salvation. And the one who knows the limits writes great fiction. One person of such kind is Paulo Coelho. Touting the need to stand by one’s dreams and the true path of one’s heart, he sounds, sometimes, didactic but his writings, always, go beyond inscribing trivial thoughts. His writing has the power to inspire nations, as The Times garnishes.

Though, the ideologies wander more or less around his previous works, he successfully maintains a peculiar kind of freshness while he deals with dreams, destiny and universe. “To love is to loose control”, he says appending a doubt “to whom?” which drives the book through the labyrinth of desire, hope and purpose.

This time, he goes beyond destiny and teaches us how to build up our past – not in fantasy but in the need of urgency. “The superior told me that if I believed that I knew, then I would in fact eventually know” says the protagonist who is trapped into the ethnic spirituality and arcane love. His love, Pilar, is grown up into a self oriented valiant woman for whom life is all about business – a kind of a commerce. She has buried the inside child of her and now, is indifferent, if not callous, to the universe emotions. They meet after 11 years, both in search of solace, but their moves are fixed with the prejudices they, themselves, had reaped. And then, the journey begins. A journey that had a lot to tell them not about the external world but about their inner existence, leading them to the river Piedra, in a small town in French Pyrenees, where they met their true metier and understood the reason and importance of their being together. Until then, the conflict prevails, shaping their paths, thoughts and emotions.

The web of words tinged with spirituality and inner conflicts that Paulo weaved around them is as exciting as the events running parallel to it. More than a love story, this book has life and faith. “Our dreams are our own and only we can know the efforts required to keep them alive” seems to be the driving fuel of Paulo’s philosophies. He talks of dreams, love, faith, god, soul and self and says that everything is connected to the soul of the universe and every act is written by one hand, hence there is nothing called coincidence. Something happens because it was destined to happen in order to fulfill a purpose. He doesn’t discuss love because “love doesn’t need to be discussed; it has its own voice and speaks its own language.” Rather, he intends to unveil the canopy that was erst put on it.

Love remains the same; its facets, however, do change. Childhood imbues innocence while adolescence brings another hue of reasons to it. And the path of change suffers dramatic reincarnations in its purpose. This book gives us an insight to such rekindled births.

Written by Animesh

May 13, 2005 at 11:40 pm

Posted in Books