Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review: Transit Lounge

Transit Lounge Transit Lounge by Sunil Mishra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The world is a wonderful place. There are countless cultures, customs, dialects and ways of life. There is no one right or wrong way. This book gives as a glimpse of the diversity around the globe.

This is a travelogue and written as a non fiction mode. Sunil Mishra is fortunate to be a software engineer, which allowed him to circumvent the globe for his work. Africa is amazing and so is Middle East. Iran I liked in in particular as they are so anti American and they have an equivalent of almost all American products.

US of A has got the detailed mention. I liked the analysis of American way of life and Sunil’s theory about rise of Trump. The X=X+1 hypothesis is wonderful and funny for Indian immigrants as he keeps thinking to return to India next year.

The horrible service at UK hotels is appalling. Eastern Europe is so dull and it seems time has frozen there.

The book is written in simple English a la Chetan Bhagat style. The coverage is brief and it can be more interesting. The emphasis is more on facts and less of scenic beauty and emotional connect. There are many typos in book and the pictures are drab. It must have been color photographs.

4/ 5 stars.

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Review: Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts

Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts by Anuja Chandramouli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prithviraj was the last Hindu ruler of India before Muhammad Ghori established the Muslim rule in India. There are many myths associated with him. Chanderbardai, the court poet wrote “Prithviraj Raso” which project him as a legend. This book is not a copy of Bardai’s work.

The book does not start with Prithvi as a king. That comes much later maybe after half the book is done. This shows his father and uncle and how he grew up from a kid. There is palace intrigue, wars, assassinations and his training. His uncle Kanha is not ambitious and is happy to serve his brother. There are rumors that Prithvi is his son as he is very handsome unlike his ugly father. He saves a girl named Yogita from bandit like thugs and brings her to his palace. They fall in love only to grow apart. Then there is attacks from Shabuddin Ghori and famous battles.

The book is pretty thick and cannot be finished in one sitting. But that is all right. I came to know many new things, which are against popular myths. Alha Udal for instance have legendary status in this part of India (I live in Meerut UP). They met their death from Prithvi’s hands. Then Yogita is not Sanyogita and Prithvi never kidnapped her from Jaichand’s home. She was not even his daughter as per popular myth. Prithvi was also not against Muslims as such but only fought bloodthirsty plunderer Ghori. He never pardon his life but it was a mistake that Ghori was left alive.

The horrible practice of showing the blood soaked bed sheet after first night to prove virginity of bride was a new revelation to me. So were dialogues of Prithvi and Chisti. The sufi sect represent soft peace loving Islam which is different from the Islam practiced by the likes of Ghori.

There are few hiccups as well. The book took too much time to come to the point. The book is about Prithvi but Anuja wasted (harsh word but true) almost half the book till he ascends the throne. That left very little time to show him in action. Also the character of Ghori and other adversaries got just passing mention and they were not fleshed out. Prithvi and Ghori are like Ram and Ravan and Ghori needed more detailing. Then Jaichand and all others were given no importance whatsoever except when Yogita comes to Prithvi in fag end. I am also sure that Anuja must have done her research (the references are given in theend) but the story is slightly deviating from the popular stories of Prithvi. Then the story was too slow at many places where not required. On the other hand it was rushed at some important junctures. One instance is the climax where Prithvi is executed.

I have read mythological books from Anuja and I can’t resist the comparison. I read to historical fictions from Anuja: “Padmavati” and “Prithviraj”. The overall quality as compared to her myths is lesser. The book has inferior language and plotting. However I liked this one better than “Padmavati”. Maybe these books were written in deadline pressure.

All in all a very enjoyable read barring few hiccups. 4/ 5 stars.

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day

In India women is either a goddess or a doormat. We worship her as Goddess Durga and in the form of mother. But when it comes to real life ours is a patriarchal society. It is a paradox. We kill her in womb or treat her as a slave in our homes.

During International Women's Year in 1975, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March. This is to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.

Equality is all we need. She is neither worse nor better than men. She is equal to men and we have to ensure equality of opportunity for her. But sometimes the second wave feminism takes things to extreme and that is also counterproductive for equality of sexes. There are a plethora of laws to protect women from Dowry, domestic violence and workplace sexual harassment. These all are necessary but sometimes these are misused.

Somewhere the balance is missing. The law sometimes is misused and other times it does not reach the intended beneficiaries. Both cases are equally bad and this skews the equation.

Equal opportunities and safe society for women is must and then they can do wonders.

Happy women’s day.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

My worst nightmare

Aayush was in 8th standard. He was fond of toys like every kid. But he was from a lower middle class family so his father could not afford many fancy toys. His father felt necessary to spend on his education whatever limited means he had.
Amit came to his house one day.
“Aayush come I want to show you something” Amit said. Amit was friend of his and from a financially well off family. Aayush went with him and Amit showed him a brand new football. It was beautiful beyond words for him.
“Can I hold it, Amit!”
“Why not”.
Aayush took it in his hands and he had no words to describe the feeling. He had no metaphor for it. But one fine day he will have it.

Time passed and both of them went their separate ways. Aayush completed his MBA from IIMA and got a handsome package. He met Ramya during MBA and both of them married. Ramya was into books and one day she was reading Hindi novel “Sati Maiya ka Chaura”.
“How can you read such thick books? I get head ache after five minutes dear” Aayush asked Ramya.
“If you like something you don’t get tired. Just like I love you and tolerate all your idiosyncrasies” Ramya teased him.
“Is not it the time we should start a family?”
“Why not?”
Aayush was in front of the delivery room of Max hospital. Finally the doctor came out.
“Congratulations. It’s a girl. The burse will bring her out in a short while.”
“Thank you doctor. How are they?”
“Both are alright Aayush”
Aaysuh was waiting impatiently for the nurse to come out. Finally the nurse came out and asked “Who is the Father?”
Aayush came forward and she handed over to him the most beautiful girl of the world. Aayush was speechless and overwhelmed with emotion.
“When can I meet Ramya?”
“In a short while sir.”

Finally he went inside to Ramya. She was weak but beaming.
“Thank you for giving me the most beautiful gift of the world” Aayush kissed her on the forehead.
“Thank you too” Ramya replied.
“Ramya! When Amit gave me the ball that day I had no words to describe it. But today I can. It felt like when a father takes his first child in his arms.”
Ramya smiled. Aayush was overcame with emotion and there were tear drops in his eyes.
“What happened Aayush? Why the tears?” Ramya asked.
“One day when we were playing the ball came under a car wheels and it burst. We were sad for weeks. If something happens to my little daughter? Then what? It will be a nightmare. My worst nightmare.” Aayush looked into Ramya’s eyes.
Ramya held his hand and said “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to her.”
They both embraced the small bundle of joy.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Business of anti-corruption

Vishnu Sharma told that once upon a time in the land of Mahilaropya there was a crusader of anti-corruption named Anant. He was an army veteran who commanded a lot of respect. People even called him second Mahatma Gandhi.

His right hand was Amar who was very talented and disgruntled bureaucrat. There were 29 princely states under Mahilaropya and Vivek headed one of them in the western part. Shyam, the king of Mahilaropya ruled it from Indraprastha, the capital. Anyway Anant protests bore fruit and Shyam was overthrown. Vivek became king and Amar became head of Indraprastha.

One fine day Mitesh, a crony of Anant fled Mahilaropya with  a lot of public money. There was a lot of hue and cry in public. To divert attention Mitesh sent his emissaries to Amar. Amar had a trick up his sleeve. He staged a drama where his ministers pretended to rough up a public servant. Now everyone forgot about Mitesh and all the media was busy talking about assault of democracy. Everyone was happy again. To top it all they accused Vivek of abetting and aiding Mitesh in first place.

Moral of the story: Vishnu Sharma said that as happens both were paying lip service to anti-corruption and talks of development were farce. People should keep their eyes and ears open and use their common sense and brains rather than to fall for fancy words.

---to be continued