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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Book Review : 'Vanara : The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara' by Anand Neekantan


Anand Neelakantan has done it again. Now, he has written a book with so much distinction that it truly attempts to stand out from everything, already written about. The book is Vanara  : The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara’ is the tale of the people of the Vana Nara tribe. Who were these people and how do they have a discrepancy and how will it show up in the epic?

Baali and Sugreeva were twins and actually were born to Ahalya and King Indra. The two grew up in Sage Gautama’s ashram. Ahalya who was accused of cheating on Sage Gautama, found out that Sugreeva told him of it and blamed Baali for it, since they both looked alike.

The two of them escape from the ashram. Asuras and Devas treat them as outcasts, people who cannot be touched, and made them slaves. So, it falls up on Baali to change the whole issue. Firstly, he refuses to accept that they are an untouchable caste and prefers that they be addressed by their true sense, and that is the Vana Nara tribe.

Amidst all this they meet Riksarajas, who is a eunuch and helps out Sugreeva by carrying him to Vaidya Sushena, who is the medicine man of the tribe. He now, calls himself the foster father of Baali and Sugreev. They also meet Tara, who is Vaidya Sushena’s daughter, and who brings them and feeds them medicine.

Sugreeva wanted to stay on as, since he considered himself in love with Tara. Believing in the Ayyan, or the supreme god Riksarajas, along with Baali and Sugreeva set off to the mountains. A time comes when Baali feels that Ayyan told him of a great tomorrow in his prayers. He felt that they must build a city by the river and call it Kishkinda, and they were Vanaras or the monkey people. They were the black skinned, broken, monkey people, said Ayyan to Baali, he claimed.

Baali also tells him of Tara and the fact that he wants to marry her, as soon as they return. And free the Vanaras, when they do return. For this purpose they go, firstly to Mahabali the Asura Emperor, where they stay on for five years.

Upon returning, Baali began building the city. But he was almost stalled everyplace. Firstly, there was the council of Vana Naras, who did not want Kishkinda and so they protested. But Tara wanted the city, and she called for the Vana Naras to put their pebbles under the Palmyra trees realised that most of the Vana Naras put their pebbles in Baali’s name.

Then it began, but they were objections and difficulties everywhere. In the meanwhile, Bali and Tara were to get married, and they managed this too, in spite of Sugreeva’s objection and all the difficulties, he put up. 
Anand Neelakantan
It is all up to how Neelakantan, tells this one. It was all the story of the three of them and their odd love stories. Then, the war between the Vana Naras, and then Ravana and Baali, then of course when Rama comes in and attacks Baali. With Hanuman matching up in between…

Of this mix and match story, stands out the fact that the Vanara story is so needed to complete the Ravan story, while it helps give the Ramayan, its true end. The caste system probably began in its true sense and never looks to end, even today, sadly. 

You can Buy the Book, right here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Book Review : 'The Making of Bhishma' by Kamesh Ramakrishna


Kamesh Ramakrishna’s ‘The Making of Bhishma’ is part of the book, ‘Fall of the Kurus’, which had its own appeal. The book refused to have the same gods, the same Gandhrvas, and even the same magical weapons. But, it probably has the truest story, which we probably had read but never understood it, in its true essence.

From the simplest of things, like what Bhishma could want in terms of how he runs his kingdom and probably to what he could desire as a man. Bhishma, who is lying on his deathbed with an arrow lodged in his lungs, recounts his part in the retelling of the striking epic. The entire episode of how he grew up in the kingdom of Hastinapura to how he became the regent of the Great War. 

He was the son of Shantanu and Ganga, and in his adolescent years, itself he had to survive his mother’s suicide. His mother walked into the Ganga and disappeared into the deepest portion of the river. 

This was followed by his father falling for a Naga girl, Satyavati, due to which, his son decided to give up his kingdom. It was the vow, Satyavati had wanted from him, as she was going to marry King Shantanu. But, she conveniently forgot to mention that she herself had a son, from a previous relationship with Sage Parashara. Satyavati has two sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya with Shantanu. And it falls on Devavrata to actually help in bringing them up. 

Today, Devavrata Bhishma, who is lying on his deathbed with an arrow lodged in his lungs, recounts his part in the retelling of the striking epic, the Mahabharata to Yudhishthira. The whole episode, of how he grew up in the kingdom of Hastinapura to how he became the regent of the Great War.

He was the son of Shantanu and Ganga, and in his adolescent years, itself he had to survive his mother’s suicide. His mother walked into the Ganga and disappeared into the deepest portion of the river. This, she had done because of Shantanu, following the Kavi Sangha’s laws, in bringing them up. 

Unfortunately, when 16 year old Chitranghada disappears into the forest, it is up to Devavrata to look for him. So, he goes into the forest, and ends up meeting Amba there. But he had to return home, and told Satyavati, a made up story of Chitrangada meeting his end at the hands of Gandaravas.

Vichitravirya also dies soon, but not before he marries Amba’s two younger sisters. He does not have children, but a plot is in play with Satyavati and her brother, Shukla, who is the leader of Hastinapura’s society of poets.
Tragedies continue in Bhishma’s life.

He also has to deal with Shikandin and his death, how did it happen?
Kamesh Ramakrishna
Shikandin is the heir to a very important person, does he discover it and who is his mother? Why and who kept, the whole thing a secret from him? Would his life be different if Amba had stayed on with him? Family disputes, fights for who would get what, love, resentment, jealousy and drama is what the Mahabharata contains, but all that would be in the next four parts.

This story is the one, for all those who have ever wondered what and why it happened. If you have questions, then this book probably has the answers to them, all. 

You can find the Bangalore Deccan Chronicle of My Review of 'The Making of Bhishma' by Kamesh Ramakrishna, right here.


 You can Buy the Book, right here.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Book Review 'Of Course It's Butterfingers!' by Khyrunnisa A

'Of Course It’s Butterfingers!' where Khyrunnisa A has done it again in this Amar Kishen adventure. It remains truly, as good as it sounds. This book is ultra-cool, since it starts off with a cricket match and you will not believe how it goes, especially because it has girls from Target School taking on the boys of Green Park School! ‘The Historic Girls vs Boys Cricket Match’ and it’s a four and a six, between the two teams…

After that, we have the Green Park gang off to handle the ‘Mummy!’ and its Scarab ring, and realising that it gets lost and the boys are not the only ones behind it. Then of course, we have the Music Makers to deal with and a classical music night, which magically transforms itself into a night of Rock music. How and why, we can find out on reading ‘The Music Makers’. 

The stories move a few places ahead to Amar’s friend, Kiran’s village. We find ourselves in ‘Russel’s Cap’, at Haryali, Kiran’s native village, where Amar learns to milk cows, draw water from the well and even take the goats up the hills grazing. It is here that the boys meet with the leader of the band, Heebee Jeebees!!

Its exam time on the educational front when Amar and his school’s principal, Mr Jagmohan bang into each other. It was ‘De-Stressed’ time when Amar is out chasing after Mr Jagmohan’s friend’s golden retriever, Goldfinger. How and what happens to Goldfinger and will it recover from its accident, help us reach the end of this set of misadventures in ‘Of Course It’s Butterfingers’.

 You can Buy the Book, right here...

Monday, November 05, 2018

Book Review : 'Tides don't Cross' by Simar Malhotra

Tides Don’t Cross’ by Simar Malhotra is a book of two women, Rukmani and Mrinalini, who are at different phases of their life. The problems, they might have  are markedly similar, yet they have a difference. They are two sisters, who are quite opposite to each other.

It starts off with their mother, Neelam who is out looking for a suitable match for Mrinalini. Mrinalini, who would agree with everything her mother has to say would end up, giving up the guy, she likes just because her mother would never agree. So, she ends up marrying Surya. With Surya, she ends up living a married life, in which she has a quite a bit of everything, but never is too happy.

Rukmani, who is quite opposite in nature, cannot understand why Mrinalini would give up everything and marry Surya. Anyway, she did have a different plan. Rukamni or Rhea, as she is better known as, ends up going abroad and also, to Paris where she meets with Ayaan. Ayaan, a varsity swimmer, suffers a bad injury and has to momentarily, quit swimming.

Now for the Hindu-Muslim marriage, which comes up eventually. In the meanwhile, Mrinalini who everyone thought was leading a good life has problems which were coming up. Firstly, with her husband dying in an accident and she is kind of blank for the first few days. She picks up with time, when she is working again and loves bringing up her child.

Back to Paris, where Rhea is left to fend for herself, with Ayaan heading back to India too. Ayaan who is in India, ends up teaching the kids to swim in the apartment he lives in and which Mrinalini too, lives in. So, the meeting happens, but they do not know each other as people, who might have been closer. Rhea pops in too, to meet with her sister and nephew.

The stigma that widowed people could carry, the aspects of motherhood, which play a part in our society and eventually the Hindu – Muslim marriage factor, all of these which were going to be a problem, raise their ugly heads in to the love story and or friendship story of the three of them now.

How will they handle all these? How will Ayaan deal with his illness and his love aspect? How will Mrinalini, who probably is in like/love with Ayaan deal with her issues? And how does Rhea, who is in love with Ayaan deal with her story? 

 You can Buy the Book, right here...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Review : 'The Shooting Star : A Girl, Her Backpack and the World' by Shivya Nath

I had read a few books about females and their solo travelling adventures. And so, Shivya Nath enthused me. This particular travel memoir consists of a girl, her voyage and her vivid book, ‘The Shooting Star : A Girl, her Backpack and the World’. 

It probably is of all the places, she went to but for me, it began at home. She is after all, from Dehradun and her first ever international travel is to Singapore. From here, she travelled to South East Asian countries and worked at Singapore Tourism Board. But around then, was when she started feeling that this was not the life for her.

It talks of her life, before she took off on her journey through Spiti, way back in 2011. Monk/Nun for a Month, where one can try out how it would be, and she checked it out. Solo travelling was the calling; she got on nights at Spiti. 

She took off to France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, on her first ever Euro trip. This entire trip was just the beginning of a journey into dreams of stars and green hills, lands, spaces and different countries. She travelled on different modes of transport and met different types of people. She went to Mauritius too, where she discovered paradise! Of course, it had its scares and its fears too.

She actually began fending for herself at Delhi, and this was a lesson for life. Shivya was in Central Americas, and she began learning the Spanish language and tried living with Mayans. In 2014, she stayed at a vineyard in South Australia, with a Hindi speaking Gujarat returned Polish man. He had walked through the Ural Mountains, finally landing in Gujarat. It was 1948, when he was put on train to England, and where he would meet his wife and years, afterwards, he would have Shivya staying with him in Australia!

Turkey, Bahrain, Canada are only a few names in the shorter stories here, in India too, deserts of Rajasthan, deep into the coastal villages in Karnataka and Goa. Of course, in the book too, we cannot miss the bittersweet taste of chocolate, all the way from Costa Rica. Shivya lands up in a village, deep in the rainforest. We also turn pages of a few strangers and then we come to the strange pages of a mugging incident.

Writing for me has been an oddly solo journey. Am not comparing it to some of the solo travelers, I have read but something about the essence of solo travel, appeals to me in a way. She wanted to see the meteor showers, have a few adventures and experience life and that’s what Shivya Nath is doing…



You can Buy the Book, right here...