Book Review : Butterfly Season

Image Courtesy: Indireads

Image Courtesy: Indireads

Blurb View:

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.

Review:

London. Karachi : Ahad. Rumi. Yes, the locations instilled a primary interest in me to read this novella. I confess not having read a contemporary author from Pakistan yet, but I wanted to. Indireads and Natasha Ahmed created this beautiful opportunity for readers to grab a bit of upper middle class Karachi. It’s a first for me and I’m sure it would be the first for many Indian readers. Reading about desis living in the subcontinent as well as abroad is particularly interesting and not explored much yet in the subcontinent literature. This book seems to have done justice to that parlance.

The story begins in London with Rumi, a middle class thirtyish woman from Karachi visiting her family and friends for a vacation. She meets Ahad, a handsome publisher brought up in London and they hit it off instantly. They embark on a whirlwind romance for a few weeks – breaking a lot of norms and barriers. Rumi explores life like she never had one in Karachi. She does unimaginable things for herself, causing the wrath of her sister and family. The story, as much it is about Rumi’s liberation, it is also about Ahad’s return to his roots. A whiff of summer from Karachi, in the form of Rumi, sweeps him off his feet.

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Book Review : It’s Never Too Late

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Blurb View:

In a nation where most women are taught to be submissive at every stage in life, Maya stands out. In a society that finds fault in women for heinous crimes like rape, Maya stands up. Maya and Rajat fall in love while they study at IIT Kanpur, their daughter Sejal only makes the bond stronger even after years of marriage. Life is almost perfect when two petty criminals decide to make her fairy tale life a tale of horror and fear with their intention of molesting her. Will she be able to fight her fate while Rajat is away and save herself and her five-year-old? Will she be able to undo all stereotypes and face the male-dominated society after that fateful night? Will Rajat stand up with her as she decides to battle her fears and take the culprits to their just punishment? Its Never Too Late is a story of every woman who decides to fight her fears and even destiny of every human who chooses the right over the easy of every wife who shoulders all responsibilities of the house and of every mother who is unwavering in her resolve to ensure that her daughter grows up in a safer world.

Review:

Rape. Molestation. Sexual Abuse. Attack. These are the words each woman in India dreads today. Increasing cases every day, rather every hour, creep into our TV channels and newspapers. Every woman is livid each time they go out on the streets. But danger doesn’t lurk only on the streets, it can inch it’s way inside your house too. That’s what happens with Maya, the protagonist of It’s Never Too Late.

In this post-Romance-genre era of Indian Literature, we have a book that touches the most relevant issue in India these days. What does a woman do when she’s alone and attacked inside her own house? How does she protect herself and her daughter? How does she overcome her fear? In the book, Maya has a loving husband Rajat and a pretty little daughter Sejal. She’s a happy woman, bound within the wings of her wonderful family. Snippets from her life are framed into scenes and described to the readers – from her student self at IIT to the wife and mother that she becomes later.

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Book Review : In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence

Image Courtesy: Author

Image Courtesy: Author

Blurb View:

A chance meeting between Avinash Vyas, a married man and Sangeet Mishra, a young divorced woman turns into something more than what they had ever wanted or asked for. Both part ways, nurturing a dislike for the other in their hearts. They meet again under different circumstances. Their prejudices keep them away until both learn that they had committed similar offences in the past that had not been fully dealt with. It was a past they wanted to avoid. What was their offence? Why do people marry? What is the relevance of the institution of marriage in modern times? Bestselling novelist Sujata Parashar’s third novel attempts to answer these questions and more as she takes you through the intricacies of modern day relationships.

Review:

Even before I opened the book, I was totally enamoured by the cover design. It appears elegant, exquisite and desolate at the same instant, carrying the promise of an extraordinary story. The blurb looked promising too with interesting situations & questions. ‘Why do people marry?’ – that is indeed a relevant query in our contemporary lives. Overall the book flaunts the look of a romance novel.

We enter the world of Sangeet and Avinash – usual names but unusual people – through flashbacks and distinctly timed chapters. They seem to share some cosmic connection and keep bumping into each other, until they finally share an office, their time and their lives. Both have tumultuous pasts that are unravelled gradually. People, marriage, spouses, children, extra marital affairs are all intertwined to create a complex web of two distinct halves. While Sangeet’s half of the story is more traumatic, Avinash’s half speaks of unfulfilled emotions.

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Selamat Datang Ke Malaysia!

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

Image Courtesy: BlogAdda

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ― G.K. Chesterton

True. I have always dreamed of myself as a traveler, rather than being a touch-and-miss tourist at popular destinations. There is a certain charm and mystery of being a traveler, of not knowing your destination to the tee, the joy of discovering new and uncommon spots, and to come back satisfied at the end of the day. I think all of us want to break free from our routine daily lives of hectic work and flow in the current of travel to faraway places. Malaysia has been on my travel planner ever since the advertisements of Tourism Malaysia – Truly Asia began airing on tv. South East Asia is the melting pot of nature, culture, heritage and technology. Malaysia is probably one of the oldest vacation destinations in Asia. There are innumerable things to exoerience in Malaysia but I would choose the best five among them in my trip.

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

1. Petronas Towers – World’s Tallest Twin Towers , Kualalampur

The main attraction of Malaysia’s capital Kualalampur is the Petronas Twin Towers. They were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004, and currently they are the tallest twin towers and fifth among the world’s skyscrapers at a height of 1483 ft comprising of 88 floors. The sky bridge connecting the twin towers is also the highest two storey bridge in the world. You can enjoy the 90 second adventure from the basement to the top floor via lift, of course if you don’t suffer from height-sickness! I’ve seen the towers many times in movies like Don and Entrapment. The chases have made me greedy for some adrenaline rush nearer the sky.

Petronas Towers also host one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, the Suria KLCC with superb and stylish interiors and glossy foreign brands, ideal for shoppers.

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CalcuttaScape : Sujata Parashar

Image Courtesy: Author

Image Courtesy: Author

Sujata Parashar, is a bestselling novelist, short story writer, poet and activist. Her debut novel, In pursuit of infidelity (2009) was a bestseller. The second in the series, In Pursuit of Ecstasy (2011), was long listed for the Economist Crossword Book Award 2012. Her latest novel the third in the “pursuit” series, In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence, was released earlier this year. Her book on poetry Poetry Out and Loud, was awarded the first prize in 2012 by Butterfly and the Bee, a literary agency. The popularity of her first poetry book encouraged and inspired her to come out with a sequel to the first one titled, POAL – II in 2013.

Presenting the sixth article in CalcuttaScape by Sujata Parashar.

Kolkata: a city of Haat – bazaars and more…

My association with Kolkata (or Calcutta as I still like to call it) goes a long way back. It goes back to my childhood days when my dad told us stories of his own growing up years. The backdrop of most of these stories was the City of Joy and its people. Dad was the fourth among six siblings – five brothers and one sister. The family lived in a village near Dhanbaad (Jharkand). His father was a Zamindaar and a homeopath doctor. When dad was about eight, he was sent to Calcutta to live with his step – brother after his dad passed away and the family came under financial strain.

Oriental Seminary School. Image Courtesy: Google

Oriental Seminary School. Image Courtesy: Google

Dad lived in Kolkata till the age of sixteen and then fled home to join the army. He married mom after he was commissioned and became an officer. Mom was the girl he loved and belonged to the royal family of Raniganj, Asansol. Both my parents had to face stiff opposition for their marriage but finally their love for each other overcame all odds and they were married in a small ceremony.

Dad loved to talk about his Calcutta days with my brother and me. And I loved listening to his stories. He would often recollect and share bits about his school life in Oriental Seminary; the pranks that he played on his teachers and how he bunked School just to watch Western Cowboy movies. But among all the little tales of his past what attracted me most was his narration of the weekly trips he made to the Haat-bazaar near his home to buy fresh vegetables and fish for the house along with his helper.  His vivid description painted a fairy tale land, to my young mind, which was always celebrating something. A city which loved its children, food and music:  kind vegetable vendors who addressed him as “Khoka” or “choto babu.”

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Book Review : The Caretaker

Blurb View:

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

A compelling thriller that introduces a new hero for our times: Ranjit Singh, former captain in the Indian Army, illegal immigrant in the heart of white America and caretaker to the rich and famous.

One harsh winter, Ranjit illegally moves his family into an empty, luxurious vacation home belonging to an African-American Senator. Ensconced in the house, he tries to forget his brief affair with Anna, the Senators wife, and focuses on providing for his family. But one night, their idyll is shattered when mysterious armed men break into the house, searching for an antique porcelain doll. Forced to flee, Ranjit is hunted by unknown forces and gets drawn into the Senators shadowy world. To save his family and solve the mystery of the doll, he must join forces with Anna, who has her own dark secrets. As he battles to save his family, Ranjit’s painful past resurfaces and he must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his career in the Army and forced him to leave India.

Tightly plotted, action-packed, smart and surprisingly moving, The Caretaker takes us from the desperate world of migrant workers to the elite African-American community of Martha’s Vineyard and a secret high-altitude war between India and Pakistan.

Review: 

I have always proclaimed how I love thrillers. They take me to another world, where every moment is pumped by adrenaline rush. The chases, hideouts, clues, investigations, even murders make me happy. Not many thrillers are doing the round in the Indian Literary Circle these days, they still are dominated by the Romance genre. Themed thrillers are also gaining momentum gradually – banks, media, police, even Bollywood!

In this hiatus, The Caretaker is compelling. It has a setup that I’m vaguely familiar with – not the Martha’s Vineyard part, but the one about immigrants in the US of A. Many Indians, despite having legal visas would grasp the dilemma and fear of Ranjit Singh, the protagonist. An ex-military, he escapes with his family from India to Boston for shelter. You have to read the book to know why, since that is the parallel plot. Stifled in a grocery store run by his wife’s relative, Ranjit moves to Martha’s Vineyard for greener pastures (not literally!). He and his daughter like the quaint coastal tourist spot for the rich.

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Book Review : Sorting Out Sid

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Blurb View:

Siddharth Agarwal a.k.a. Sid has it all a fifteen-year-long marriage, a bunch of devoted friends, and the chance to be the companys youngest-ever VP, all at the age of thirty-six
But, behind the scenes, his life is slowly falling apart, what with his marriage on the rocks, parents who treat him like a delinquent child, and overly-interfering, backstabbing friends. And thats not even counting the manipulative HR vixen and the obnoxious boss he must tackle in office.
So, when lovely, spunky single mom Neha materializes in his life, she brings into it a ray of hope. But will she cause the brewing storm to finally erupt?
Who said it would be easy sorting out Sid?

Review:

Came Valentine’s Day and I picked up this book for review. Not really a ‘Romantic’ novel per se, it has it’s own sauce of romance. Well, life is not only about traditional romance, is it?

The book is about Sid. It is his story. But it is as much a story of people cocooned around him – Mandira, Neha, Aditi – the women! Sid is someone most of us would be able to connect with – he’s not happy with his marriage, his job, his shortcomings and his love life. Sid has multiple persona, just like most of us – ‘Work Sid’, ‘Party Sid’,’Sid Uncle’, ‘Best friend Sid’, ‘Ex husband Sid.’ I particularly loved the way the author has explored each such persona and their different shades. A few people would find Sid repulsive with his beer-and-beanbag (Brownie) sessions, his unkempt ways and his fumbles at specific moments. But Sid is as normal as one can get. He laughs, he cries, he lies, he whines and he loves. He doesn’t hate, and that’s what I liked about him.

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