Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Deaai

This book is 2006 Booker Prize Winner. Must be a great read? You would say.
Well, I didn't like it. This book reminds me of - Gone with the Wind, genre type of books. Everyone says that, Gone With the Wind is a very great novel; America's most beloved Epic Novel,huh! But, even after countless, sincere tries I have never reached beyond 100th page of that book.
Although, I did read 324 odd pages of Inheritance of Loss, but that was more like forcing myself to just complete the book and get it over with, rather than enjoying it.
The story is about a retired judge living in Kalimpong, with his grand daughter Sai and his cook. The cook's son Biju. has gone to America to make it big there. The plot is set up in 1980s or so - at the time of Indra Gandhi and people in an around Kalimpong rioting and demanding a separate Gorkhaland for themselves. The story revolves around the judge's own past - How he was able to go to London, how he became judge etc. etc. about young Sai, the cook, his son Biju in America and of course the strikes and riots etc. - very very boring I would say.
The plot is nothing to write about, the story doesn't moves much - doesn't have much of a great start or for that matter any great end. When I reached the end I didn't expect it to finish so abruptly.
If you want to go to sleep then start reading the book. This book helped putting me into sound sleep at night, continuously, for more then a week.
I read most of the books in long stretches, which I typically call - long sessions - but, it was impossible to read this book in long sessions at one go.
The only parts which I liked a little bit were the meetings between Sai and Gyan. Gyan was a teacher just a few years older then Sai, whom judge had appointed to teach Sai.
I have been thinking - Why did this book got a Booker Prize?
The only reason I can think of is that probably all the judges who were appointed to select the Booker prize winner were old, buddha log - who might have liked the story because its about their old buddha times - so they ended up selecting it.
There is other thought also lingering in my mind that probably there is something missing in me which makes me fail to appreciate this kind of work, whereas others are able to appreciate it.
Anyway, according to my personal views, this book is very boring and not much worth to write about but others might have different views.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Anything for you, Ma'am", An IITian's Love Story by Tushar Raheja

I got to know about this book from Mehak's - 'Book Shelf'. Just seeing the title brought a smile on my face. After reading 'Five Point Someone' by Chetan Bhagat, I always had a firm conviction that some other author or publisher will soon use the IIT tag to sell a book and fail (probably miserably) and here I saw my prediction coming true - I had to smile.
I immediately placed an online order to get the book.
The next day the website( said that it has been dispatched and will reach in 2 days. It didn't even reach in 5 days and a call to them revealed that it will take 5 more days. Damn! it was my first order from that site - I'll never buy any book from them again. Why the hell do they mention that it will reach in 2 days, when then can't deliver it in that time?
Anyway leave that - finally, I did get the book to read.
The first thing I read was the reviews at the back of the book. They looked pretty ordinary, nothing much to write about.
Then I read that the writer was a fourth year IIT student, which lowered my expectations from the book by a considerable amount. They weren't much high to begin with, especially due to the IIT tag used at the top as a sub-title - 'An IITian's Love Story'. First, no matter How much one tried - a comparison of this book with FPS is sort of inevitable and FPS will win hands down. Secondly, the plot itself didn't seem much engrossing or captivating (from the reviews at the back). Thirdly, the publisher was some obscure one, about whom I haven't even heard before. Fourthly and more importantly, I hated the IIT tag being used again, just to sell a book.
This book did teach me a lot of things. Mainly, as a writer, which blunders should be avoided.
The starting of the novel is a sequences of pasts, presents and futures. That keeps the reader totally confused about the flow and sequence of the story. Sometimes suddenly the author dashes into the past then back, then again back, then forward. It's difficult to keep track of things especially in the starting one third of the book at least. After that its much better.
Of course, the author might have done this to keep the audiences hooked to the book, but sadly it doen't work. It would have been much much better if the writer had started from the beginning i.e. when, how and where - Tejas and Shreya meet and continued from their on, in the sequence as it had happened rather then darting from present to past to future, countless times.
The plot itself has nothing much to write about. It revolves around - How Tejas an IIT Delhi student could bunk his Industrial Tour and visit his beloved,Shreya; at Chennai.
The author's self important, self-centered style, me have brains, me can do anything, me can find a way to anything is also a big put down. I understand that at time of youth, in which Tushar, the author is - the thinking is of that sort. I also had the same sort of thinking at that time of my youth. But, sadly, as a hero of the book, it would never have worked. FPS worked because the characters in it were portrayed as normal human beings with their faults and fallacies and not as some super heroes. In fact, Chetan Bhegat was successful because he downplayed his characters. Hari, the topper of the class or Hari knowing answers to everything, wouldn't have sold.
There is a mention of DISCO in the book, but the author doesn't describes it much. Although, he does mention about it, but, then skips it totally. It gives a feeling that Tejas never went through DISCO, and the author just cooked it up.
Also the author has a nagging habit of straying from the path whenever something important or exciting is about to happen. He writes irrelevant or unnecessary things for a few lines or even paragraphs before coming back to that important issue. For some effects! I suppose, but this teasing by the author will be seen as highly irritating by the readers. At least for me, it was.
As said earlier too - the IIT tag has been wasted and is just there on the cover page to sell the book. The whole of the book has nothing to do with IIT, in fact, Tejas could have been studying in some commerce or art college, the story would not have required any change. There is no mention of IIT life, hostel life, about grading system or the countless and numerous things that go on there - except the crazy and absent minded professors; that would be present in any pajamachap college too.
The string of coincidences has also been taken too much far.
The story is good in some bits and pieces. For example, Tejas's heart to heart talk with his sister, candle light dinner on a roof top etc.
Overall - 2/5. You can neglect it.
Read Rashmi Bansal's review here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Indian Post

On 28th December, 2006, I used the Indian Post after several years - probably five years, ten years or even more - I don't even remember the last time I used the Indian Post to send anything. But surely, it has been a long, long time.
The special occasion was - the New Year itself and I wanted to send greeting cards to various relatives and friends. Although in today's age, with the use of e-cards, smses and e-mails, the culture of sending greeting cards by post is almost dead, but anyhow I just thought of reviving that culture a bit. Many many years ago - I loved the times when I used to receive the postal greetings cards, mostly on Diwali and New Year and mostly from relatives. Today also I find those greeting cards much better then the e-cards, so I thought probably others will like it too. Even if they don't, the sheer joy of writing the wishes inside the greeting cards, then writing the addresses on the envelope and then finally sending them were enough for me to revive that years' old culture.
While writing, I also found out that my handwriting has deteriorated more then a thousand times it used to be in college and it was not much good, even in the college days. For the past few years, I have hardly written anything with the pen, so it was like drawing flying sparrows and crows rather then writing anything good and easy to understand. That time I even promised myself for writing at least one page with a pen everyday, to improve my handwriting. But these sort of promises are made at the spur of the moment and never quite materialize to anything.
It was a nice surprise to know that even today it took just Rs. 4/- to send a greeting card by Indian Post. I remember, it was Rs. 1/- when I used to send them - years ago. So, today also its pretty cheap - I had hoped it would be around Rs. 10/- or so. But, I have not received any aknowledgement from the people I have sent the cards, of receiving them. But, probably its too early - I don't expect the cards to reach them before the end of this week - if they do reach.
Hope that they'll receive them.