Monday, January 01, 2018

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Boat-Wreck- Review

After a boat wreck overturns his life, Rameshchandra Chowdhury mistakes young Kamala for his newly wedded bride. They move away from Calcutta to start a domestic life together, even as Ramesh is unable to forget Hemnalini, whom he was always in love with, but could not marry. Meanwhile, Hemnalini must steel her heart, whilst her hypochondriac father and hot-headed brother seek grooms for her. When Nalinaksha, a serene and influential doctor, enters the scene, fate decides to rock the boats again. 
Initially serialized in Bangadarshan magazine between 1903 and 1904, and then published as a novel in 1906, Noukadoobi was Tagore's exercise in psychoanalytical probing of an ensemble cast of characters, to reveal not just their individual pains and passions, but also the collective consciousness of the society of the period. Narrated in warm tones that reveal the tenderness of everyday life, and translated gracefully by Arunava Sinha, here is a story about love and sacrifice, faith and resilience that is timeless.

About The Author
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is India's greatest littérateur. The only Indian to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he wrote prodigiously and brilliantly across forms, including novels, short stories, plays, poetry, song lyrics, essays, travelogues, and even question papers. His works span an astonishing range of subjects, including humanism, love, family and society, politics, sociology, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and religion. Tagore wrote primarily in Bangla, and his works have been translated into almost every major world language. 
Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and non-fiction into English. More than thirty-five of his translations have been published so far. Twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, for Sankar's Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri's Seventeen (2011), he has also been shortlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction prize (2009) for his translation of Chowringhee. Besides India, his translations have been published in the U.K. and the U.S. in English, and in several European and Asian countries through further translation. He was born and grew up in Kolkata, and lives and writes in New Delhi.

“Music is nothing but a matter of practice. Once a sense of melody has been instilled, everything becomes easier.”

Arunava’s adaption of Rabindranath Tagore’s classic ‘Noukadubi’ flows true to the above spoken words by Annada Babu, like a soft melodious tune. Renamed ‘The Boat-Wreck’, Arunava Sinha sticks true to the essence of Tagore’s sensibility, capturing the Bengal of early twentieth century, an essence wrapped neatly in time.

Considering its basic premise, it would be safe to categorize ‘The Boat-Wreck’ as a love story. However, the pages narrate tales that are unconventional. There are elements of mutual affection, trust, romance and also a tinge of betrayal, embossed in the backdrop of Tagore’s romanticism. ‘The Boat-Wreck’ is a story told in time, flowing with time, and finally emerging with its own realization against time. It is an episode of self-discovery amidst the tumultuous period of losing and finding oneself.

There are four basic characters in the novel with distinct identities of their own. Hemnalini is pretty, smart and confident. Like most of Tagore heroines, she comes with an innate sense of power that draws the readers towards her. She is loved by people around her, specially her father Annada Babu who trusts her blindly. Hemnalini has a soft corner for Ramesh, but it is very rare that she confesses this feeling openly.

Kamala is the second female protagonist of the novel. Unlike Hemnalini, she is not well educated. She is simple and has a childlike innocence that makes her the cynosure of the story. In fact, most of the narrative revolves around Kamala, her relations and her inner turmoils. Though she isn’t acquainted with the finer nuances of ways of the world, she has her own sense of practicality and wisdom that guides her through and helps her stay afloat in roaring tides.

Ramesh and Hemnalini share a mutual affection towards each other. They are all set to marry, when a cruel storm overturns their plan. Ramesh is kind, sensitive and affectionate. However, he can be blamed for indecisiveness and not staying firm to his resolutions. His sense of duty and responsibility urges him to accept Kamala as his wife, but his non-clarity of ideas get Kamala admitted to a school, so that she wouldn’t be near him. Both Hemnalini and Kamala are loyal to Ramesh till a certain point, but the cloud of confusion and self-doubt in Ramesh’s mind creats a maze for all, where the protagonists find themselves tangled.

We are introduced to Nalinaksha towards the latter half of the story. Gripped by a grief of his own, he has devoted his life to the services of people in Kashi. He is responsible, and is not afraid to speak his mind, even when his opinion differs from his mother whom he respects a lot. He balances his heart and mind, and takes his decisions only after proper considerations.

‘The Boat-Wreck’ reflects the chaos in the consciousness of the protagonists created by the turmoil of the tides. It lays bare open situations that no sane man would ever like to encounter. That is how life is, and the novel tries to depict one. However, coincidences and chance meetings often crop up in the story, which dilutes the mystery and creates a sense of predictability. That, though, doesn’t take anything away from the beauty of the plot, which grows on and on the readers, taking us to a mesmerizing ride, sometimes subtle and other times turbulent.

Title: The Boat-Wreck
Author: Rabindranath Tagore (Translated by Arunava Sinha)
Publisher: HarperPerennial
Publication Year: 2017
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Classics, Love
No. of Pages: 308
Price: Rs 299
My Rating: 3/5

Sunday, December 17, 2017

There Was This Moment

there was this moment
that stood by the night
I gazed at the stars
the signs were all right

she held up her glass
the wine shining bright
Cheers! the drinks clinked
my heart flying light

some well thought of words
randomly escaped my lips
I knew she wouldn't know
what this moment means

the breeze played warm music
and I held out my hands
Would you like a dance
She nodded in advance

and there was this moment
when the world turned mute
I could feel her breath
our lips synced to the flute

I prayed for this night
to run well past dawn
her cold fingers brushed
preparing for swan-song

then the stars hid
in the blanket of the sun
our time was up
in red rays of horizon

she ran towards the edge
and flew off the roof
I could see her no more
those memories aloof

a decade and a half
she visited each year
a spirit, or a fairy
her identity unclear

but I did love this moment
though fleeting in nature
and I await another year
for our moment's next chapter

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Yeti-The Himalayan Kitchen - Review

A couple of weeks back, we visited Hauz Khas village. After strolling around the Deer Park, my family and I decided to have our lunch. As we walked through the lines of restaurants and pubs, our attention zeroed upon 'Yeti-The Himalayan'. We decided to give it a try because, one, we were looking for a good family restaurant at that moment and not a sort of bar/pub, and two, the name appealed to me, as if inviting me to the serenity of the Himalayas.

There were three of us, and what disappointed me a bit after entering the restaurant was that no tables were available (it was a Sunday). Half marks deducted. We waited for 15 minutes before a table was finally free, and we took our seat. In the mean time, we did admire the beautiful ambiance that was created inside the restaurant, There were Buddhist prayer rolls, flags, pictures and other decorations which would transport guests to the aura of the mountains.

The menu is spread over various cuisines, Himalayan, Nepalese and Bhutanese to name a few. We opted for Chicken Chow Chow, Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Manchurian. The food was served after 10 minutes, and we just couldn't have enough. They were YUMMY! All three items were top notch, with the right mix of spices, and we ate to our hearts content. Also, the service was good, with the waiter and the other staffs making sure the expectation are met.

I would surely visit this place again.

Restaurant:   Yeti-The Himalayan Kitchen
Address:       30, 1st Floor, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi
Open:           12 Noon - 11:30 PM
Cuisines:      Tibetan, Nepalese
Contact:       +91 11 33106044
My Rating:   4/5

Yeti - The Himalayan Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time - Review

This is Christopher's murder mystery story. There are no lies in this story because Christopher can't tell lies. Christopher does not like strangers or the colours yellow or brown or being touched. On the other hand, he knows all the countries in the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7507. When Christopher decides to find out who killed the neighbour's dog, his mystery story becomes more complicated than he could ever have predicted.

About the Author
Mark Haddon was born in 1962 in Northampton. He has done a variety of different jobs including working with disabled people, drawing illustrations and comic strips, writing and working as a painter. Haddon has written a whole range of different things including books for children and adults, poetry, TV screenplays and a play for the theatre. Mark Haddon wrote and illustrated his first picture book at the age of twenty-five. Since then he has written many picture books including the 'Agent Z' series and the 'Baby Dinosaur' series. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was published in 2003 and it was the first book ever to be published simultaneously in two editions – one for adults and one for children. The book was instantly a huge success and has won a whole host of prizes. Mark has won two BAFTAs for his work in writing TV screenplays for children and adults. He's also published two more books for adults.

There is a closely guarded world among all of us, rooted deep within. We look at what’s happening around us, and judge, and finally act. Our decisions are sometimes rash, other times controlled, and often plain intuitive; ‘cause we are humans, with our own set of thought processes, our own idea of good and bad, influenced by our upbringing, our society and the world.

And then there was Christopher, a teenage boy who was good with numbers, computing tables in his mind whenever he needed to be calm. Christopher counted cars to make his day good or bad. ‘Four red cars’ in a row meant Good Day for him, ‘three red cars’ denoted Quite Good Day, ‘five red cars’ implied Super Good Day, and ‘four yellow cars’ signified a Black Day. Christopher lived with his father, and his rat, and loved mystery novels. Christopher belonged to the society, but he had devised his own set of rules that he strictly followed.

Mark Haddon touches the sensitive topic of autism in his novel ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’. His protagonist Christopher is autistic, and thus his thought processes are different. Christopher is also the narrator of the book, which makes the idea of the novel all the more compelling. There had been a ‘murder’. A neighbour’s dog was killed, and Christopher took it upon himself to solve the mystery. This is what the cover of the book indicates too, but what makes it different than a normal suspense novel is the way the whole plot has been conceptualized and treated. Christopher’s fascination with Mathematics shows that he is a genius in his own way. The constant encouragement and advice from Siobhan, and the beautiful relationship they shared bring a smile on our face. Christopher wrote down his adventures (in the form of this book), and we couldn’t but admire the warm innocence and simplicity that oozes out of his words.

What genre does this novel belong to? Thriller? Suspense? Dark Humour? To be honest, this book can’t be tied to one particular genre, as it is a reflection of Christopher’s day to day life, and the tasks he undertook. We as readers fall in love with Christopher, his brilliance and shortcomings, his determination, and also the fear, and his willingness to always speak the truth. Christopher didn't like people touching him, and he hit a policeman in the process. Christopher makes us giggle, without him realizing, and that’s the best part about him.

However, this book opens a question wide to me? Did I really like it? And strangely enough, I didn’t find a conclusive answer. Did I like Christopher? Yes. Did I like the narration? Yes. Did I like the concept? Yes. Did I like the first half? Yes.

But did I like the way the story progressed? No (it dragged in second half). Did I like the mystery? No (I didn’t find the investigation exciting). Would I re-read this book? No (it was good for a one time read).

Thus, my personal opinion is that Mark Haddon has brought up an interesting idea and scripted this book, but it’s not devoid of its loopholes. I would have liked the second half being trimmed a bit. I admire the honesty in the narration, but expected more grip in the suspense element.

I would suggest giving this book a try. This is not the regular stuff, and to be fair, I haven’t read anything like this before. 

Title: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Authors: Mark Haddon
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Year: 2003
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Classics, Mystery
No. of Pages: 304
Price: Rs 299
My Rating: 3/5