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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review : ‘Love in Lutyens’ Delhi’ by Amitabh Pandey

Love in Lutyens’ Delhi’ by Amitabh Pandey is a three way love story. One is of a little girl, the second is of her mother, and bringing up the end is her aunt. How should I describe this book? Should I treat it as a love story, because it talks of love, predominantly? 

Or perhaps it could be a kind of women and their careers, with one being a doctor, her sister going the other way and choosing to be a book editor and the third one, a career in computers. It must also talk of the older ladies, loving their daughter or niece. Or the love between the two sisters?

Oh, I must also mention the fourth one, though quite the opposite. The boy is a Civil Services aspirant, who might have to choose abandoning his dreams of writing.

Which to choose?

Okay, let us begin with my favourite. The book editor’s story. Abha, who happen to leads quite the life. In between, worrying about her sister, and trying to set her up, and also her niece, who has found love at an early age. Abha has to find time, between all this to find her own love. But with her own commitment issues, does she manage to find him? Does she manage to keep Mo?

The second person is the niece, Akriti. The child was off to kindergarten with her, aunt, when she spots a young boy, who was busy crying, not to be at school. This was Akriti’s introduction to the young Sanjay, where she had been busy chasing her aunt home, asking her to leave, since she seemed quite comfortable. The two of them Akriti and Sanjay meet and begin their love rather early in life. Both are smart, intelligent beings.

Until their time comes, when they have to decide to be together forever. The two of them are put in a difficult situation. Will he choose to give up his dreams and choose something; he was always made to do? Take up Civil Services and do what his parents thought would make a meaningful career? And give his dreams up, not just civil services, but even writing? Akriti is left in a mess. Will she end up going off to the US and pursue her career?

Gayatri is a successful doctor and she stays busy with her career. Being widowed very young, she ends up being the single mother to Akriti. She, with her sister’s help manages to bring up Akriti. As years pass on, so does her life, and the doctor is posed with another question.

As she was growing up, to medical school she had gone, with two friends. One of them ended up being her husband, and the other Vishy remained a good friend. Now, after all these years, Vishy is back and ready to begin dating Gayatri. Will it happen? Will she date him and settle down with him? Will her daughter agree to the whole situation?
Amitabh Pandey (from Pan Macmillan)

Well, that is how I saw it. Starting off with the book editor to the computer geek to the doctor. Of course, I could have taken another route too, but this is how my mind works right now… :)

You can Buy the Book, right here. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Kannaki's Anklet' (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Kannaki's Anklet' (Part 2). In this part of the Interview, he tells us the most challenging, as well as the most fulfilling parts of writing this book, he also includes which one took precedence, between the storyline and the characters, and the book he is reading currently, Folks...

What were the most challenging and fulfilling parts of writing this book?

One of the most challenging parts of the writing was to write about an epic, whose basic language is not understood by me, i.e. Tamil. The cultural nuances were critical and I did not want to take that away in the course of translation or narrating the story in English.

However, what was fulfilling was when the noted scholar, Dr. Prema Nandakumar wrote the following, in her Foreword to my book, “With my
Dr Prema Nandakumar (indussource.com)
absorption in Tamil literature (ancient and modern) for six decades, 'Kannaki's Anklet
' is the first English transcreation of the Epic, that I have come across. It could not have been easy to choose the format. Reading it, I found that Mr. Patel has done his ground-work with dedication and has made it a meaningful read to muse upon as well.”

Which took precedence between the storyline and the characters?

The storyline. My intention was not to deviate from the original as this was going to be a retelling, as close to the original. 

A few minor characters might have been added, or a few scenes might be included. This was done as a means of enhancing the beauty of the epic and to maintain a pace. But it is as close, to the original as it should be.

Which book are you currently reading?

Currently, I am researching on certain aspects or practices on mythologies of the world, which I intend to bring out through a novel. 
Utkarsh Patel
However, it is at a very conceptual stage and might not warrant much of a discussion.

What book is coming from your desk, next?

Same as above, as there hasn’t been anything finalised as yet.

You can Read the Review, the First Part of the Interview and Buy the Book right here, as well. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review : 'The Paradise Flycatcher' by Deepak Dalal

'The Paradise Flycatcher' is another brilliant one of Deepak Dalal’s books, but, this time with a twist. The people take on the book, with the birds catching up too. Rose Garden, the habitation, where it all happens is busy enjoying the breezy morning with the blue, clear sky above. 

Snowdrop, the white headed squirrel, is missing. And it is up to young Mitalee to look for it. Mitalee, who is so used to seeing Snowdrop sitting with all its friends, around the fountain has suddenly, disappeared. 

The usual gang includes the fork-tailed bird, an iora, the bulbul, the magpie robin, as well as the bee-eater, doves, sunbird and a tailorbird, and surprisingly, a couple of sparrows too. Among, all these Snowbird used to sit, but today it was absent.

The birds, which always used to sit at the Rose Garden, seemed to be making their way to the Leaf Garden. All in search of Snowdrop. Mitalee spots Chintu, the neighbourhood boy who is much hated by her. Chintu hated Snowdrop as much as Mitalee loved Snowdrop.

It is Mitalee’s suspicion that the squirrel was kidnapped by the boys. And it is, of course the birds’ suspicion too.

All of a sudden, the birds were discovered by Chintu and his friends, Arjun and Maitreya. The friends were invited by Chintu to attack the birds with catapults. Mitalee warns the boys of harming the birds. She also raises the fact that the boy had stolen Snowdrop, only to be disagreed to, by Chintu.

The next day dawned and Mitalee and the boys are at school. It’s a busy day for the birds too. They are all out searching for Snowdrop. Even the forest was not spared. To be on the lookout for the squirrel, the birds made their way among all the trees too.  

In the meanwhile, Mitalee is told by her friend, Alisha that Maitreya can be trusted. Mitalee is busy that night chatting with Maitreya, when he shows her a link. On opening the link, Mitalee sees Snowdrop being advertised on a website called, PetExotica. The squirrel was sold to the website owners, and they were paying quite the sum and had promised more money to the boys, on the sale of the squirrel.

Deepak Dalal
What would happen now? Will Mitalee trust Maitreya? Would the birds manage to discover, where exactly the squirrel was kept? Would the birds, including Mitalee and her friends manage to free the Snowdrop? Would Snowdrop see his friends, the squirrels and also his rescuers, the birds again in Rose Garden? 

The book is wonderful as ever. The suspense holds good too, as does the discovery of the squirrel. The illustrations by Krishna Bala Shenoi are brilliant too, in fact a little more exotic than ever. Three cheers to the Feather Tales team…

You can Buy the Book, right here.                                     

Friday, February 16, 2018

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Kannaki's Anklet' (Part 1)

Utkarsh Patel
Read up, part one of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of 'Kannaki's Anklet'. There are a few authors whom I have liked for a lot of reasons, but this author, is an exception. The magic of the storytelling is repeated here, too. The charm that he takes on, while replying to each and every question is truly brilliant.

He has described the journey of writing and putting together this book, along with the research, he has put in. He has also described why Kannaki was chosen exactly, and he even drew comparison between the epic and his earlier novels, 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' and 'Satyavati', and how he sees the entire book as a tale. More questions in the second part, Folks...

Could you describe the journey of ‘Kannakki’s Anklet’? How did it begin? What kind of research was put into it?

While teaching mythology at the University, a student once asked me, ‘Why are heroes in mythology always men? Were women not seen as heroes or has mythology been partial to women? My studies had shown that except for occasional spark of heroism in a few female characters, one hardly comes across any women heroes.’ 

This set me thinking, and I started researching on myths, legends and folktales with female heroes, till I stumbled upon the Tamil epic, 'Silappadikaram'. I read and reread it and wrote on my Blog about it, and soon enough it took the form of ‘Kannaki’s Anklet’.

Statue of Goddess Pattini (Wikipedia)
Ilango Adigal (Wikipedia)
A lot of research has gone in. To begin with, I read a couple of academic translations of the epic and many discussions on the same. Its cultural relevance, the geographical path undertaken by Kannaki, as mentioned in the epic, its current cult following and how it travelled from India to Sri Lanka, where she is worshiped as 'Pattini Devi'.

Besides this, I also worked on Tamil cultural aspects and the tenets of Jainism, as the author of the epic, Ilango Adigal was a Jain monk and a lot of Jainism has been discussed in the epic.

Why did you choose Kannaki, exactly? How does she compare, exactly to the mythologies, you have written until now?

Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged
One of the main reasons of choosing Kannaki was that she was a very ordinary woman. She was what close to 80% of women in our country still are. She is simple, down-to-earth and her life revolved around her husband and her family.

She is a far cry from many of my earlier heroines, (Shakuntala and Satyavati), who were fiercely independent. They were truly mythical and belonged to Mahabharata.

The book has been compared to an epic. How do you see it, as a book or tale?

Kannaki's Anklet
It is an epic by all standards. As mentioned earlier, it is quite unusual, as all the epics of the world, be it Indian or Western, epics rest on the shoulders of male heroes. 

Here, the hero is a woman, Kannaki, and she is central to the story right from the beginning, to the end. Also, unlike other epics, the other woman, Madhavi, is not painted as a vamp or a negative character. The author has very beautifully brought out her character as a woman helplessly in love. 

It’s rare to find such mature depictions in the lores, from the past.

 You can Read the Review here and Buy the Book right here, as well.