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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Book Review : 'Heart Quake' by Ishita Deshmukh

Ishita Deshmukh's ‘Heart Quake’ is set in the disastrous times in Gujarat in 2001, when a major earthquake hit the place. The book begins with nurse, Sonal Patel, who has come to Bhuj to help out a team of doctors at Shanti Vaas. This entire camp was set up in the city to treat the numerous patients, who kept coming to the hospital in the wake of the quake. But Sonal was in the city to also look for her best friend, Smita who lived in the same city. 

One day, when she is busy hunting around for Smita, in the many camps, when she suddenly comes across her ex-boyfriend, Tejas Desai, who apparently was there too. Tejas was here to pick the worst of the cases to treat them in his newly set up multi-speciality hospital. 

The story traces their love story, which had begun earlier and to find true love amongst disasters. Plus, there is also Dilip’s factor, who was her to be fiancรฉ. Dilip who was her friend for all these years, when Tejas was not to be seen, was looking forward to being Sonal’s husband. The mind and the heart were meant to fight each other, as they do in Sonal’s life too.

She also, has to worry about her colleagues, who seem to be stuck at this point too. There is all the mess with her colleague, Nurse Pooja who also seemed to be falling for Tejas. Then, also her other colleagues, a doctor and another nurse, who seem to be in love with each other. This was the case, before the nurse finds out all about it. He, not only has a wife and son, but 'apparently' he also loves the nurse. 

He also, is the wrong person to go to, with him handling the wrong medicines and not treating his patients properly. His flight from the entire situation, explains it all. And there are othe bad causes at work, henchmen in terrible times too. The wrong agents at work are trying to make money from the entire situation. 

The best people of this lot include Sonal’s mother, Chitra who seemingly calmly guides her daughter, into the next phase of her life. As does Dilip, who stays in love with Sonal through the whole story.

In the city of Bhuj, after the entire shock, and the aftershocks it leaves behind, will these people survive it? It is a definite dramatic story, with a mixture of emotions of love, friendship, and a whole bunch of confusion, hate, crime, hope and disaster. The story was alright, but then the range of people was a little high. It was not only a love story, but it was a mixture of so many emotions.

You can Buy the Book, right here... 

Friday, August 03, 2018

Author Interview : Neelima Pudota, author of ‘From Everest, With Love' (Part 2)

Read up, Interview with Neelima Pudota, author of 'From Everest, With Love' (Part 2). Here, she tells us advice to writers, today; what inspired her to travelling solo, her future travel plans and the most fulfilling  and challenging parts of writing this book.

She also tells us, who it was that told her that she could become the author, she is today, what  she does on a daily basis, and who her favourite authors are and why, Folks...

How do you note the points, which you have in your book? Do you come back and write them down or are there any other ways? 

I keep myself very aware of the thoughts that are coming and going out of my mind. The intention is strong and the deadline, I have given to myself is small. So the experience will be very intense. There were days, I woke up in the night to pen down something. There were days I had to stop driving, park the car aside and write down. There were days I wrote in the most unusual places. 

All these apart from the points, I have jotted down on the Mountains. So, yeah, a book and a pen is something I carry with me anywhere I go.

Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published? 

Start young and pray your book is published before you die, if you are looking for a traditional publishing. Be very clear on what you want to write and why. ‘What’ you want to write might be an enriching journey, an adventure in itself, where most of the time, the book will open up itself before you in surprising and unexpected ways.

But the ‘Why’ is pretty much a suffering and you must have a strong ‘Why’ to counter it. You must know Why your story must be heard, Why are you any special and Why is your story any special, because the Publisher will rate you not for your writing skills or your moving story, but how many people you can make it reach. So yeah, it is very difficult to be published with the outwards journey that follows immediately after an inward journey.

What has inspired you to start doing this, solo?

The lack of smart people around me? Do we have a choice? I tried being mediocre by fitting into the crowd. Really, I tried a lot. It just didn’t work out for me. I could not contain my spirit to a Monotony. After learning a bit, I wanted to learn and do a little more. I had to explore. Containing the human spirit to a few things looked like an insult to the Human potential. I had to be out there and see it myself. I just couldn’t believe in the impossibilities of many things. I still don’t do. 

Neelima Pudota
I laugh at the silly things that stop people from doing what they want and Laugh more at the people who stop them. Really, at the end of the day, You, yourself and no one else is stopping you. The fear of not trying or exploring something because you are ‘Solo’ is a debilitating mindset. It means you are not clear why you want to do, what you want to do. If your goals and thoughts are clear, being ‘Solo’ is in fact the best place to be.

How has your way of thinking changed since you first started travelling?

Like you can see in the answers I have given above, travelling did open up to my mind to new avenues and the possibility of dreaming out of my comfort zone.

What is the biggest lesson (positive or negative) you’ve learned through this entire solo adventure?

Khalil Gibran (From Wikipedia)
One quote by Khalil Gibran made sense to me, 'Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things'.

You decide, if its positive or negative. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Have you felt ever lonely being a solo adventurer?

I’m not a solo adventurer yet. There are like minded people I find everywhere on an expedition, probably very few women. But I’m not alone here. 

And there is no gender difference to the Mountain anyways. Mountains treat everyone equally. I still have to evolve a lot to try Alpine style climbing and virgin peaks. But yes, its always a work in progress.

And if your definition of adventure is limited to travelling, then solo travelling pushed my comfort zone and opened avenues for Mountaineering. 

Now, I think of Mountaineering Alpine style and to push my comfort zone in Mountaineering. So, Solo traveling is like break for me. Solo travelling is when I need to relieve myself and take a leak. Do you feel lonely in the loo? (wink, wink haha)

Have you ever run low on money during your tour?

Yes, I did. And there are people around everywhere who are ready to help us, if you want to see. The odds will melt away if you have the will to do.

What are your future travel plans?

No travel plans as of now. A lot planned for Mountaineering, though, where travel is just an insignificant part. Like I mentioned before, I will travel if I have to relieve myself and need to take a leak. I cannot tell when and how it will happen. And I will definitely not announce it to the world!

Which particular character do you feel most close to? Why?
In my book, specifically? SAGARMATHA – No Doubt about it. It is not a character, though. Why would I see anyone as characters walking in and out of my life like I was a part of a fictional story scripted by an imaginary character called GOD? I’m glad if you did find it that way though. It means you’ve enjoyed it. Thank You! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

Aak is Pak. Pak is Aak. Aak Pak Karepaak! The book IS a personal account of experiences on Everest.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing this book? And what is the most challenging?

The most challenging part is the most fulfilling part. You must remember that it is a true story and to track my Sherpa down was the most challenging part to make a closure with him and also the most fulfilling part.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

It’s my mother who encouraged me to write since my childhood and the first one to have probably said that I will become an author some day. 

People have always connected to my words and wanted me to write more. So, I guess it was a natural transition.

What else do you do on a daily basis?
I train. Very hard. It’s a life long commitment I gave to myself for choosing to be a Mountaineer. I’m also a co-founder to an Outdoor Adventure company called Third Pole Adventures Pvt. Ltd. So, it keeps me very busy.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
Krishna Shastri Devulapalli (From Goodreads)

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli and Trevor Noah. I love them because of their refreshing perspectives on realities and how they can laugh at life. 
Trevor Noah (From Wikipedia)

We don’t need anymore people to remind us of our suffering and struggles in a bad way and in a self-victimizing mode. We need writers, who can laugh at the bad experiences and learn from them. And these are the people I personally learn a lot from their writing too.

Yuval Noah Harari (From Wikipedia)
From Wikipedia
Which book are you currently reading?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Book Review : 'Gautama Buddha' by Sonia Mehta

Talk of coincidence, but I just remembered that I had this book, after I got back from Dharamshala, a place where Gautama Buddha is a huge factor.  I got back home and read it. I mean, of course I did know of Gautama Buddha but I had the book and it was here for me to read. This book, Gautama Buddha was a super way to end the trip,  with much thanks to the author, Sonia Mehta.

In a kingdom called Sakya, many centuries ago, Queen Mahamaya gave birth to a boy, much to her husband, King Shudhodhana’s delight. Sakya was small tribal kingdom, in present-day Nepal. They named the young boy, Siddhartha. 

Wise men, who saw him, told the king that he would become either a king or a Buddha. A Buddha is someone who has attained Bodhi, or wisdom, or enlightenment. The king, who wanted his son to become only a king, like him strove to keep him away from anything unpleasant. So, Siddhartha was brought up, in incredible luxury kept away from away from anyone or anything poor or suffering. 

He was only 16, when he was married to Yashodhara from the neighbouring kingdom, who having heard of the swan he saved, took to it with much delight and happiness. In spite of the fact that her father had warned her that he would become a monk, one day. But Yashodhara never doubted that he was the one for her.

For thirteen years, the two of them led a very happy life. She was very supportive of him and his feelings. But, in this peaceful life, there still was a sense of unease in Siddhartha’s life. One day, he walked up to his father, and expressed his wish that he wanted to step into the city. His father though reluctant, agreed to it and asked him for a few days. Ordering, the city to be transformed into one of a very pleasant one and free of everyone and everything especially, diseases or poverty, he agreed to Siddhartha going into town.

Finally, Siddhartha walked into town. But suddenly, a beggar from another village walked in. He was old and frail, and he seemed to be begging for food. Next day, he was out again, and this time he met a sick man. His charioteer dragged him away and told him of leprosy, which that man had. The next day, Siddhartha did not tell his father and went in to the city again. This time, his encounter was with a few men carrying a dead man.

Now, again he was out into the city. He saw many people, happy, sad, and healthy and some even sick. Then he came upon, a person dressed in orange attire, with only a stick and a bowl, and a smile on his very calm face. He sat under a tree, and Siddhartha soon found out who that person was. He was told that he was a monk.

Siddhartha, after his adventures in the city, went home to hear that his wife had given birth to a son. Everyone was busy celebrating, but Siddhartha decided to make the move. That night, he was gone.

Siddhartha walked on and on, moving from village, to town to city. He walked into King Bimbisara’s kingdom, where the king himself came and asked him to give up. Siddhartha only told him, of his mission which was to find out how we can be free of death, and only when he found out, would he stop. So, he went on in quest for spiritual teachers. One such teacher taught him, how to meditate and he moved on to another teacher, whom again, he asked questions on suffering, old age and death.

For long years he kept on trying to find out and put his body through all kinds of torture, before finally he realised something. He sat under a peepul tree and shut his eyes in meditation. He saw himself, in earlier lives, saw his own death many times, the good, the bad and desires and wants and finally when the body, become one with the universe, he attained Nirvana.

Sonia Mehta (Author from Penguin)
He went on to teach several people, and from place to place he went. The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path were all known as the Dhamma or Dharma. The knowledge and practice of these factors was all Dhamma.

It is a good book for everyone to read. Because there is so much more to learn and this book would at least guide us, along the right path. So much else to read and learn from this book and it is only a start.

You can Buy the Book, right here...

Friday, July 27, 2018

Author Interview : Neelima Pudota, author of ‘From Everest, With Love' (Part 1)

Neelima Pudota
Read up, part one of the Interview with Neelima Pudota, mountaineer and author of 'From Everest, With Love'. This book gave me an all new sense. A sense, which kind of took me with it, took me to the mountains and left me there to understand them better, to feel them better and to discern it all better.
In this part, she tells us how she first fell in love with the Mount Everest, how she brought out her personal story and managed to blend it with what she has written, how her medical, social and economic backgrounds affected her writing. She also tells us, what the kind of research was, that was put into the book and what she feels is different about the book. Much more to this interview, and it will definitely come through next week,  Folks...

How did ‘From Everest, With Love’ first happen?

It happened the first time, I saw Everest (in 2015). ๐Ÿ˜‰
It took me a while to realize that this book was in the making ever since I first crossed my gaze with Sagaramatha in complete reverence. It is not in my limited human capacity to write such a story. As much as this answer sounds spiritual and philosophical, there is little we can explain the logic behind the making of this book.
I was always fascinated with what was happening to me. I was aware and knew that some Magic was happening but was not able to put it in the right words. I struggled with 2 other versions before this book. One titled Mountains of my life and the other Find your Everest, each discarded after a significant work and time spent on it. When my mom finished reading the letters I wrote to her, she suggested to me to give it a reading. I randomly 
opened to read a page and just knew that this was what the book will be.

How did you bring out your personal story and blend it into the entire subject?

Because the book is a collection of letters to my Amma, the personalization was inevitable. In fact, the first set of edits went through my mom (who also happens to be an editor) with a series of discussions as to what can be kept in the book, how much of a personal life can be shared with the readers and how vulnerable I can get while opening up personally with the readers.
The second session of editing was with my Editor Varsha Naik, who introduced the technical jargon and a lot of stuff that my Mother knew, but the readers might not know. So, we had to blend the technicalities into the personal story for readers to understand better. It was the other way around.

How did it feel to write about yourself and your loved ones, as characters? 

It felt very Natural. Everyone became, just characters. None of my loved ones, who stood by my side, were with me. Only their spirit (read as character), was with me. I felt like a character out of a story too. The whole experience often felt so surreal.

How did your medical, social and economic backgrounds affect your writing?

Medical - ? (I’m looking at this as health) During the time period of writing the book, I had no health issues but I did take a break from my training. But it was a conscious decision to give all of myself to the book. I knew I would have a tough time when I’d restart my training, but that struggle and the pain is part of writing the book. You have to make sacrifices.
Social - I had to zone out myself during the time, I was writing this book. My phone was almost all the time in “Aeroplane Mode” while I was sitting to write. That’s almost a year. I allowed only my close Family members and friends to linger around me. Coming back to be a part of a normal social life after writing the book took some time.
Economic - Like I mentioned before, I put everything aside to make this book possible, just like training and climbing the Everest. This book has to be considered a part of the consolidated Everest experience from training, execution and documentation of this dream. I planned my economics for supporting myself during the whole period a lot ahead.

What kind of research was put into the writing of this book?

It’s a whole life; I have invested in the research. Let’s try to sum that up with the 3 Rules of Mountaineering – Its always further than it looks. Its always taller that it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.
The book is not just about writing; it’s also about Technical details in Mountaineering, the physical and mental training it takes to be there, seeking of the unknown, unseen, unheard, forbidden and the impossible.
Mountains are the deepest teachers I’ve encountered and what they teach you cannot be measured. I have always shared my innumerable experiences and these lessons with my mom after every expedition. It is what I decided to share with my mom through these letters too. And I still feel there is so much more to share.
I’ve undertaken professional Mountaineering courses in institutes affiliated to the Ministry to Defence, India and I still feel there is so much to still learn.
I’ve read so many books, interacted with Mountaineers, Sherpas, Mountain Doctors and guides. But I still find my research (read as Love) so insignificant and there is so much more to know.
The Mountains are truly overwhelming for a research subject.

What according to you is different about your book?

Every story is different and everyone’s perspective is different. No two books are same. There is no comparison. What makes the readers select a book is the connect they try to form with the story of a Non-fictional book. People already know the story and want a detailed account of it. In that sense, my book is different purely based on its story. 
A story of a woman jostling, to make some space among men in a male dominant sport and every system that she goes against to fight and become the first woman to have climbed the Everest from her state. A story of her relentless pursuit that pushes the Government to allocate funds for Adventure sports for the next generation simply because she broke open new avenues of opportunities.
All that, and going beyond the summit to think of her Sherpa and to take accountability of every situation up there on the Mountain. To have gone back to him and confronted him. To have made peace and moved on. To have been grateful for this whole experience. And to have known that it’s a rare story and that needs to be told.
Whatever sentence in the above has rung a chord with you will make you want to read this book. You just need one reason to buy it and this book has so many of them.
You can Read the Review and Buy the Book, here as well.