Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Lost Flamingos of Bombay
Book by
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

I read this book almost a month back and have not written about it as i could not decide on my feelings for this book...I love and hate this book in parts.

The central character of this book is Karan who is a photographer and through one of his assignments he gets introduced to Samar, a retired pianist and Zaira, the top name in bollywood. Karan during his pursuit of his personal ambition of creating a book with photographs of Mumbai meets Rhea, an artist who chose to get married over her ambitions and is somewhere dissatisfied with her life, at Crawford market in Mumbai.

As I proceeded in the book I realised that it has similarities to the Jessica lal murder case. Of course you have to read the book to know more about the who got murdered and where and what happens. The book gives you a peek into the high society life of Mumbai. I loved the book for the the range of issues it covered - gay relationships, real friendships in a society that seems so shallow overtly, standing up against the corrupt judicial system in out country, extra marital affair, child sexual abuse, AIDS and the most beautiful was the way it brought out the images of the city of Mumbai. I disliked the book for the same reasons i loved it...its too many complexities in one plot and the superfluous language made it a very difficult read.

So overall, go ahead and read it once if you don't mind the language bit :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Almost Single
Book by Advaita kala

After a long time i read a "chick- flicky" book with a wacky sense of humor and written in total bollywood style ( and then i read that it will be soon made into a bollywood movie).

It is a story of a single woman Aisha Bhatia who lives and works in Delhi and leads a cosmopolitan lifestyle and manages to maintain a balance with her somewhat orthodox family, nosey neighbours ,a demanding boss and a hip circle of friends. It is a simply written story surely to make you laugh out loud

fast paced fun read
Curfewed Night
Book by Basharat Peer

Curfewed night is the story of Kashmir captured by a Kashmiri who was born in the valley about the same time as me (1976). It is not really a story, but, a series of experiences that the author or people he knew went through.The author talks about his life as a young boy in the valley, his move to Aligarh to study, his job in Delhi and then his return to the valley to research for this book.

I knew the story of partition in 1947 and have an idea about why Kashmir became an issue between India and Pakistan but this book really gives you the first hand stories of what happened on the ground. It is a book written from the heart with honesty that touches your heart and makes you angry as to why we let things go so wrong in Kashmir.

Like i said that the author was born in 1977 so its a book written about the happenings in Kashmir in our lifetime. It was hurtful to read that things in the Kashmir valley were so difficult when I was just in New Delhi doing my graduation so peacefully. Its not the best book in terms of story writing but definitely an insightful book and a must read.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Glass Castle
Book By Jeannette Walls

The amazing discovery of the world of books has been one of the remarkable things in my life. I read a book and feel nothing can be better than this one and just then i discover a new one....

The Glass Castle is an amazing memoir of the life of the author , Jennette,whose family is absolutely dysfunctional ( well that's what most of us would think!!! ), opposite of what you would ever believe is good parenting, nomadic , lacking in what the so called families would want to believe that life should be about. At one point of time you almost feel sorry for the author and want to feel bad about her childhood....but by the time you finish the book you realize that Jeannette had absolutely no self pity , her childhood has been full of learnings of such a wide variety and the family bond is much stronger than that of the "so called normal families".

Let me give you a little peak into her life...her father is an alcoholic but most brilliant and imaginative who teaches them physics, geology and lessons of life that you will not learn in a school. Her mother is a free spirited woman who does not like the idea of domesticity but still teaches her children to take care of themselves and love their lives. Jeanette and her siblings went for days without food, living in rags, without a bath , untreated wounds and without heating in the house when it was freezing outside...but then they just learn how to deal with situations and you realize that why do we create such a fuss about all this. But they have all grown up to be extremely successful individuals loving and respecting each other just the way they are

Read this book and it will change your view about what normal is !!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Daughters of Arabia
Book Written by Jean Sasson
Part of a Trilogy (Princess, Daughters of Arabia, Desert Royal)

As soon as i finished reading Princess, I wanted to read this book. The sequel begins with the story of how Princess Sultana's anonymity gets discovered when her brother (who by the way is one of the villains in her story....yes its beyond sibling rivalry) spots this book on an airport and the stories sounded familiar. But the great part was that the immediate family decides to guard this as a family secret to prevent their own downfall in the royal family. It was a relief to know that she was not punished and her husband of all the people was so supportive.

This book is about the story of her two daughters Maha and Amani. Though Princess Sultana and her husband are raising their daughters in the best possible way and trying to treat them as equal with their brother yet they see the stifled lives of other women around them. The story is about how the daughters reacted to the environment....very different from Princess Sultana's reaction but equally desperate.

The high point for me in this book was the description of their trip to Mecca ( the holiest place for the followers of Islam). It was very interesting to read it from her point of view. This book is much softer as compared to Princess as it talks about the other changes happening in the society. Women are studying, men are becoming more tolerant and how the Gulf war has changed economic and political scenario in the country.

I think it was a good decision to read this book immediately after Princess as it kind of gave me some peace to read that things were improving for better.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Book written by Jean Sasson
Part of a Trilogy (Princess, Daughters of Arabia, Desert Royal)

This is the kind of book that will give you goose bumps. It is true life story of a Saudi Arabian princess ...confused that how a story about a royal lifestyle ever give you chills....this book realistically captures the contradictions & extremities in that society and the power of unlimited wealth.

Princess Sultana is a real Saudi princess who has told her story anonymously through the writer. She talks about how the life of women in her society is controlled by the various men in their life -father,brother and husband and how they are treated as objects. She has all the wealth in the world...we are talking about the types ....where you have palaces in every major city of the country, priceless jewels, unlimited people to serve you, private jets to take you for a one day shopping trip to Harrods or wherever you wish to go.....But then she reveals shocking stories of forced marriages, sex slavery, honour killings and other extreme atrocities against women.

But on the positive she also tells a story of how women like her are trying to voice their opinion in a society and hoping for a better tomorrow for her daughters. She gets married to a really good man. The book also gives a little history of the country which was good to know. Princess Sultana is a strong believer of Islam and clarifies that all these atrocities are NOT because of anything that The Prophet actually taught.

I have also came across an article on the net that talks about some controversy about some facts mentioned in this book (the parts about female genital mutilation)....so i needed to remind myself that this book was written in 1992....things must have changed after that and i need to take everything with a pinch of salt.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Zoya Factor
Book written by Anuja Chauhan

One of the craziest book i have read in the last three months of reading frenzy and i can say my book-reading lifetime too. The craziness of this book can be best appreciated by somebody who understands the cricket frenzy in India or is an Mills & Boons type of romantic.....obviously i related to the latter.

Before i say anything more....this is a work of pure fiction...so obviously all this has never happened in Indian cricket.

The story revolves around this woman Zoya who is a facchu in the advertising industry and happens to be born on the same moment when India won the world cup in 1983. She, the Indian cricket team (except the team captain...yes yes Dhoni...but he is called Nikhil Khodha in this book) and soon the entire cricket world is convinced that she has this power which will make the team win if she has breakfast with them. So the book is about how she becomes the great "Zoya Devi" in our superstitious cricket crazed nation from a no-one of the advertising industry. When all she wanted was to meet Shahrukh Khan (I immediately connected on that one) in one of the ad shoots she was sent to do this work with the Indian cricket team and she was a "cricket challenged" person like me . In a true MB style she meets Nikhil Dhodha and her encounter starts with an uncomfortable situation. The story crazily proceeds as the "Zoya Devi Factor" keeps getting re-inforced and the romance between Nikhil and Zoya moves and ends in a true MB style.

I must say that my knowledge about the Indian cricket team and the advertising industry has definitely become better....and most of all I can never see MS Dhoni as Dhoni ever again...he is Nikhil Khodha for me.....Zoya's love :).

Hope a miracle like this actually happens in the next world cup for India.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Unaccustomed Earth
Book written by Jhumpa Lahiri

I love talking about this author as I have read all her books....its a great feeling for a non reader like me. I highly recommend her for anyone who wants to read some simple and highly engaging stories on human relationships. I am sure you must have heard of her books "The Namesake" which was adapted to make a popular film and " Interpreter of Maladies" which won her a Pulitzer prize...but i think "Unaccustomed Earth" is by far her best writing.

This book has simple short stories that focus on one aspect of relationships that most of us are in...either father daughter, siblings, friends, room-mates, significant others and the not so common emotion of dealing with parents second marriage.

These stories are of individuals who are either first or second generation Indians in the US so obviously has a lot of emotions/issues/ situations that people like me would never face or like some of my friends in the US say that ..."it doesn't happen like that"....but then i feel they are very genuine. Irrespective of where we live or what generation we belong to its easy to relate to those emotions. Another interesting aspect of these short stories is that even though they are individual stories with no cross reference but you realize that she is talking about the same set of people in different relationships.

Once I started a story I was not able to keep the book down coz I wanted to know the end and in most cases the endings surprised me.