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Posts Tagged ‘adventure’


The Ex-Files
Vandana Shah | Penguin | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.05 PMTechnology has made us believe that we all live in a global village, ground facts however are different. Each nation and each society is bound by its own mores and social inequities. Vandana Shah’s coming of age autobiography about a 3-year-old marriage and a 10-year-long divorce reflects the conflicted India we live in. On one had we have ‘well-to-do’ and ‘well-educated’ people who feel entitled to control women (be it fathers, relatives, husbands, sons), and on the other we have Shah, who’s asking, “Will someone please get up and change this system?” It’s a long battle. Still.

*

The Small Big
Steve J Martin, Noah J Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini | Profile Books | Rs 399

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.27 PMModern studies in the field of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology and behavioral economics have given us many insights about how we react and why. The authors of this book have gathered some of these ‘insights’ to help people organize their businesses and manage their employees. These tips warn the writers need to be used judiciously and wisely, “Trying to use too many tools of persuasion at once could actually make it more difficult to achieve the outcome you are hoping for.” In other words, the tips may not work all the time!

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Pathfinder
Angie Sage | Bloomsbury | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.07.43 PMEveryone needs magic. Angie Sage re-kindles it in her story of Alice Tod Hunter Moon, a young Pathfinder who leaves her seaside village in search of a lost friend, Ferdie. Rumour has it that Ferdie has been taken by the mysterious creature caked Garmin and Alice needs to rescue him. Set against the backdrop of Cornwall marshlands, this story is part of a trilogy sequel to the adventures of Septimus Heap and Jenna, the princes. For those who love the warmth and humour of Sage’s stories this trilogy is a special gift this season. Enjoy it.

(The above reviews appeared in Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 28 December 2014.)

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Is it All About Hips?
Sangita Shresthova| Sage| 223 pp, Rs 450

This gem of a book takes us through a journey of Bollywood hip thrusts and gyrations in a wonderfully researched reclamation of our wicked past. It traces how in the 1940-50s Indian classical and folk dances were purged of their erotic content to uphold middle class ideal of well-behaved, sexually contained female to its adaptation by the Hindi film directors that laid no claim to such notions. The 1950s Vyjayanthimala’s footwork and Shammi Kapoor’s rock-n-roll shimmy gave way to the 60s hip thrust of Helen the Vamp, the 70s Big B strut and courtesan twirls and bosom heave gave way to 80s brazen disco numbers, and the 90s Shyamak Davar’s fit bodied athleticism and girlie chic took Indian Bollywood dance to the global stage. Hips don’t lie – voyeur in us knows that. While Shresthova tells the story well, one does not understand why Kabir Bedi – India’s non-dancing hero – was roped in to write the forward.

*

Chapter Eleven
Amit Shankar| Vitasa – Times Group Books| 361 pp, Rs 495

The literary herd may flog Chetan Bhagat for his pedestrian English, but it has no problem bedding his rose-tainted IIM view of changing India. In fact, the success of the film 3 Idiots proves that Bhagat’s schmaltzy coming of age stories fit the Shining India narrative like a glove. In his imaging of modernity, small town aspirations are finding hope and meaning in Gurgaon’s glass towers abuzz with Blackberries, shiny laptops and disposable incomes. ‘Chapter Eleven’ shatters Bhagat’s corporate idyll. Here the protagonist is catapulted from a morally rigid, small town feudal cesspool to the global schlock of B2B and B2C competition, shrinking market and recession. Shanker sums it up for young India, “I assumed that I will learn, work, grow. But then I realised that I was learning…to cheat and fool people.”

*

The Moonstone Legacy
Diane De Gunzburg & Tony Wild| Hachette India| 265 pp, Rs 250

This teenage adventure book comes with a recommendation from writer, William Dalrymple, emblazoned on the cover. It’s “most ingenious and imaginative” it says. One finds it hard to digest that an Indianised Enid Blyton-like tale would attract such effusive praise. The reason for this effusiveness lies in the genetics and history of the writers. Gunzburg’s is the daughter of a Pathan from NW Provinces, where we are told he still toils the land. Mother is from Yorkshire. Tony Wild’s family, in turn, made their fortune from Indian tea. The story of this book takes off from the Wilkie Collins’ classic, The Moonstone published in 1868 in England. Ingenious and imaginative, did you say?

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 27 November 2011)

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RumiA New Translation
By Farrukh Dhondy |Harper Perennial | 165 pp, Rs 299

After Prof Arvind Krishna Mehtrotra’s seminal translation of Kabir’s poems and Ranjit Haskote’s mystical rendition of Lal Ded, comes Farrukh Dhondy with a clutch of Rumi verse. This small book apart from Jalaluddin Rumi’s couplets also packs an introduction to the Sufi saint’s life and work, a personal note from the translator and a Q&A. Dhondy says he was tempted to translate Rumi after reading a trashy translation on flight to Australia. “I looked for other versions. They all seemed to be written by new age spiritual freaks who took Rumi to be endorsing some mixed-metaphoric burden of wistful romance.” In Dhondy’s rendition, Rumi’s off the cuff ruminations are shaped as much by reason as by rhyme, word or meter. Each line, delightful and each couplet, telling.

He who spreads evil
 Is one who plants weeds
Don’t waste your words
Don’t sell him rose seeds.”
*

Souls in Exile
The Return of Ravana Book 3

By David Hair |Penguin Young Adult| 309 pp, Rs 250

In Pyre of the Queens, the first in the Return of the Ravana series, Ravana named Ravindra Raj devised a secret ritual to acquire deadly mythical powers. In Swayamvara, the second volume, he chased Ram, who has been reborn as the great warrior, Prithviraj Chauhan. In the third volume, Souls in Exile, Abbaka Rani and Rani of Jhansi fight against Ravana to defend their kingdoms. Vikram (Ram), Rasika (Sita), Deepika and Amanjit are the super four that take on the evil demon. Everything is real yet unreal. The historical events are reproduced faithfully, as are major episodes from the epic, Ramayana. But the action takes place in modern day India – in Varanasi, Jhansi, Kannauj, Mumbai, Delhi. David Hair spins a yarn adding a twist here and there to accelerate the plot for the four super heroes. And creates a fantasy world that’s at once unbelievable and charming.

*

Beijing Welcomes You
Unveiling the Capital City of the Future

by Tom Scocca| Riverhead Books| 367 pp, Rs 699

At the very onset, the writer notes that China has a lot of people. He then asks why did the International Olympic Committee grant Olympics to China? He assumes that it’s because the world wants China to join the ranks of leading nations. But isn’t it already a leader among nations? Scocca admits that as an American, he was in habit of viewing People’s Republic of China as a momentary aberration, “something that would go away if we refused to accept it.” Now, he knows better. Scocca spent four years in China, from 2004-2008 during which he wrote for Slate and the New York Observer. What he wrote finds its way into the book. As the book jacket honestly records – Beijing Welcomes You is “a broad yet close record of urban place we don’t yet fully comprehend”. In short, a bit of everything that a foreign reporter’s journal can hold.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, 23 October 2011)

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