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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review : ‘Private India' by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson have put together this book, ‘Private India’, which had me wondering exactly what parts were written by each of the authors. Okay, firstly I have never read a Patterson book, and have read two of Ashwin Sanghi’s novels. So, basically I could have been at a loss here.

It starts off excitedly, murder in Mumbai’s hotel room of a Bangkok’s highly accomplished surgeon. The doctor has her hand tied to a fork and a lotus. And on her foot is tied, a tiny Viking helmet, and around her neck, a yellow scarf. 

Called upon by ACP Rupesh to solve this one is Santosh Wagh, the head of an Indian version of a global detective agency, ‘Private’. ‘Private’ is headed by Jack Morgan on the global scale. Meanwhile, handling things in India is Wagh, Nisha, a former CBI officer, complete with Hari, a technology expert and Mubeen, the medical expert.

A series of murders follow this one, each with different symbols, denoting the fact that they have all been committed by one person. The one thing in common, that they all have are the yellow scarves around their neck! After the surgeon, a journalist, pop singer, a politician, social worker and a school principal are all killed.

Meanwhile, there is another aspect running. The immoral one. Here we have an underworld don plus, a few terrorists, Bollywood, an attorney general and a godman. There was a little too much to digest here.

Going back to the story, it  occurs during Durga Puja, which means Ashwin Sanghi has to come into play, he with his knowledge of mythology, and some of the additional stories. The thuggee story bit, which could have been an eye capturer was not delved into properly, I felt. The nine avatars of Goddess Durga is another element, which of course, we all know Sanghi for.

Overall, the book which started off very well, managed to falter here and there, thanks mainly due to its varied stories. Wagh with his sad back story lost the plot, in between.

But it is worth a read, but it depends on how we look at it. If you are expecting the ultimate combination of crime writers, then one might be a tad disappointed. Though, some of its stories might not fit in the overall book, the sub-plots are interesting and have the chance of capturing one’s mind. And probably, another book all their own.

Authors: Ashwin and James Patterson
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-0-099-58639-5
Price: Rs 350/-

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review : ‘Stolen Years : A Memoir of Simranjit Singh Mann's Imprisonment' by Pavit Kaur

Pavit Kaur’s ‘Stolen Years : A Memoir of Simranjit Singh Mann's Imprisonment’ is a nostalgic journey, probably through one of India’s saddest events. It was November 6th 2014, when I first started reading this memoir. It was Guru Nanak Jayanthi, and it was not the end of many coincidences, that I would have while reading this book.

It started with the prologue of a cold November night in 1989, when Simranjit Singh Mann was released from jail after five long years. He, who was in jail still managed to win an election for a parliamentary seat from Tarn Taran in Punjab.

Back to the main story, we have an interesting and wistful description of Pavit Kaur’s childhood years to begin with. Starting off with the Operation Blue Star, which shook her family apart, Kaur, describes how her father, Simranjit Singh Mann was at his parents’ house when the Golden Temple was stormed by the army on 6th June 1984 under then, PM Indira Gandhi's orders. She goes on to describe Indira Gandhi’s assassination and eventually, how her father was accused and arrested for the same.         

She also describes her school life and you are wondering what kind of a painful story would this horse riding and fun loving child have. She goes on to describe her great-grandparents and little into their history. So, we get a good glimpse into the British times, as well. She also goes into the Sikh history, which I thought was very useful for an amateur like me.

Leading into her teenage years, this particular memoir takes on a different twist, straight into her father’s jail stories.

The talent which, Mann had is best seen in his notes at the prison he was imprisoned in. His adventures with the jailers and prison officials are described with utmost ease and brilliance of the writer, he was.

Kaur manages to put in a few letters which, she had written him. These letters, along with those of her mother, brother and sister and a few others, as well. She with great detail, manages to go into Himalayan forest life, her adventures with family and friends and even card games. She basically captures the tender relationship of their father with his children, in these pages.

The story is filled with glimpses into her family life and that of whatever her father might have missed. She even uses old photographs and copies of various letters and articles in the book. It seems like a good break, if you are reading it in a single reading like I did.

The readers can decide what they feel of this narration. Personally, I liked it. 

Author: Pavit Kaur
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-81-8400-442-7
Price: Rs 399/-

Friday, November 07, 2014

Writing and Handwriting... Days and Tales

My handwriting wasn’t too bad; in fact it was pretty good, at one time. So, I liked it and I thought that it would stay that way. But, unfortunately this wasn’t the case. It could be time, it could be being in a constant hurry, it could be computers, it could be mobile phones, it could be nerves, whatever it was, I realised that my handwriting was not quite so good, anymore.

So, lately I have been practising to write. Write about anything and everything. It could be as simple as writing the abc or ABC, or even the numbers. But I realised that though it makes sense to practise writing these, what made it better was to keep writing about anything and everything. 

So, I bought myself a notebook and a couple of pens (pencils were a good option but I really do not have patience for them). I also have a little space I use for myself for doing the writing, and I have taken over this place to call it ‘The Place’ for my handwriting. I keep reminders on my phone, too. 

The best thing about this is that I don’t find it to be as much a pain, as I used to when I first started it. So, start writing about half a page first, then move on to one page, and more if necessary. I would say it takes up about 15 minutes in the day, thanks to the procrastinating and wondering what I can write, and finally to write. :)

I am writing all kind of nonsense, first it started off with the abc, then the numbers and finally to writing what am doing, or just about anything. It could be next to nothing, but that is the fun part.

Start off with a lined book and then you can move on to a plain book. Start with the Os and then the Is. Try doing it in one line, and then you can try various things. Start writing now, and soon you could have the cursive writing like I do, today. But there is a lot of improvement to be made, if I want it to look like it did before.

Make sure you write the dates and the day it is, while you are writing, just to keep tabs. So, maybe it is cool, that I am at Day – 47, today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Book Review : ‘Jeeves and the Wedding Bells' by Sebastian Faulks

To say that I am reading a PG Wodehouse book, after all these years, would be a little far flung. But to say, that I was reading a probable imitation of Wodehouse would be closer to the mark. Of course, Sebastian  Faulks, the  author calls it a homage to PG Wodehouse.

In 'Jeeves and the Wedding Bells', egad… it’s all there, the rich families, with their extended relatives, the mansions they live in, the butlers, footmen, the maids and the cooks. Of course, Jane Austen’s mention in this book seems, just about right. 

Also, present are the silly plot, and the loves and the lost loves of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the imperturbable butler, dishing out his well-honed advice, which is all a part of the plot.

Sebastian Faulks does an excellent job of this, but we will come back to that later. Going back to the plot, it is time for Aunt Agatha again, with Wooster, managing the great escape to Kingston St Giles, in order to help his good friend, Beeching. All this, while Wooster is trying to get over his latest love, Georgiana Meadowes.

Sebastian Faulks
So, Wooster and Jeeves repair to the mansion, where they have the plan to exchange roles. So, we have Jeeves making out as Lord Etringham and Wooster as his butler, Wilberforce to complete the picture. The chaos ensues and we have a love triangle along with the family drama and tears.

I missed Wodehouse in parts, because you have the quintessential humour, but Faulks luckily knows this and does not attempt it. But the unmistakable wit and humour make their presence felt. The end is the best, of course, but when it happens there are times you don’t feel like letting go…

Author: Sebastian Faulks
Genre: Fiction
Publisher : Penguin Random House Books
ISBN : 978-0-099-58897-9
Price : Rs 299/-