Outcasted Life in Colors of Social Inequalities

Book Title: Two Leaves and A Bud

Author: Mulk Raj Anand

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: Amazon

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Mulk Raj Anand’s style of writing sets the reader to think deeply and it also evokes a reaction from the reader. I read this book as part of my Indian Writing in English course, in the second year of my BA (English Literature). It is a fact that English Writers of Indian origin spoke of highly serious topics such as caste and social discrimination. Or it could be that the choice of Writers were the ardent freedom struggle activists. Some Writers used humour while some believed in holding the note of deep contemplation in place during the course of their narratives about the British rule in India.

It was almost like Gangu’s the protagonist and his family’s troubles were never ending and the way out of the situation does not seem available anywhere. In that way, the plot’s moment of happiness was also colored by the protagonist’s non-achievable delusion of future happiness. While reading Anand’s work, I felt it, that it was a rather overload of sadness which kept lining the story from start to finish. It was never dropped even during those small happy moments in the life of the major characters. In this Anand reminded me of Charles Dicken’s writing keeps making things harder, especially to find even a moment of joy in any described situations in story.

The Story in a Nutshell

A Farmer of Amritsar who has lost his land to the moneylenders is forced to move out of his familiar hometown to an unfamiliar state in Assam where he struggles in the pathetic condition to just live one day after another with his family being safe. What happens to his family and to him in the new place and how the contractor just painted a life of prosperity which turned to nothing but a mirage of horror.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the intensity with which Anand wrote this story. There is no rest from the constant feeling of desperation and desire that something good would happen makes a refrain in the mind’s of the reader; but then, there were no breaks. The strength of a human’s mindset of hope that keeps ebbing and flowing through our being is reflected in Gangu and his family too. But eventually, reality strikes and everything is just darkness. I also liked the flow of words when I read it and it felt like I was living in the British rule era.

What I disliked was the few characters major evil ones, but they were the plot progressing villains who were the catalyst to moving ahead of the story. But I think if you can make some character to be hated by the reader, then the readers are invested in your story and the protagonist.

That way, this book had a lot of interesting paragraphs where the author’s ability to describe the scene and emotions of the characters comes out very well. This novel was very sad and at the end of it, you are happy because it was a definite tragedy and it is a little over the top with injustice hanging on the hinges. But then, it kind of opens up the mind’s eye towards what could possibly be the reason for the existence of such discrimination and why is that the fellow human beings do not have the basic rights in their life and working condition.

The human’s rights are violated in the working condition of the plantation at every given point. This leaves a sense of constant injustice which becomes a given fact of the contracted workers’ life. That sense of injustice and inequality really gets to you when you read this novel.

My Opinion

The fact that I had to read this novel as a compulsory novel of the Indian Writing in English paper, I felt a sense of dark brooding when I read it. I don’t pick books which are unhappy, but then being socially aware is also part of the deal to read up books that are written with sadness in it.

I do want to read up literary works of Indian Writers, but their grammar is so hard and that of the Wren and Martin variety. But then you have rare thoughts of progress and advancement from these Writers which moves one’s sense of right. But I was someone who enjoyed styles of varied kind. If I read for a specific time a specific style, then, I tend to be able to pick it up.

Like for instance, there was a time, when I kept reading Shakespeare’s plays and landed up being able to read like natural English. I side poetry more than prose. Anand’s prose was one such pleasure to read, but the subject left me depressed and a little disappointed about the inequalities in a society of that time.

The people who live in the delusion that all is well and continue life in stupor, sometimes need to get their jolt in novels such as these. The novel brings out the oppression in plain statements and in turn showing this mirror of society the reader is not given any space to escape. I believe if the book does that to you, then you are reading an exceptional writer’s work.

Image Source: Amazon Online

Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita Volume 2 | My Notes

Book Title: Thiruppavai – Godai’s Gita | Volume 2

Author: Swetha Sundaram

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Kindle Copy: Amazon US | Amazon India 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Swetha’s narrative style has the old South Indian tradition of storytelling clubbed with loosely knit story format that works wonderfully for this commentary on Andal’s Thiruppavai. There are so many micro short stories woven with such sensitivity that it is an experience of being in a timeless boat floating on the oceans of never-ending stories.

The Story in a Nutshell

Goda, the composer and the versatile story weaver of the Thiruppavai brings out the deep-seated desire of the girls in Ayaripadi to celebrate and to get Lord Krishna’s exclusive companionship. Goda in this volume is visiting every missing girls’ house to personally awake them from their slumber to join in the Pavai Nombu celebration.

The Volume 2 stories are as compelling as those from the volume 1. These are small incidences picked from various Puranas and Vedic time stories. She also picks up stories from the contemporary era too, when she talks about the Alwars who lived before her and their life stories. The never-ending link of stories and facts of the rites provides for an entertaining conversation among the girls.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked all little and big stories. I didn’t feel tired from the constant deviations from the main event of the Pavai Nombu. The stories felt like an ambling aging river carries with slush pile of silt in its bed. The time spent on the three girls in Goda’s list of missing girls is well spent on learning so many interesting news bites about the Lord and His gracious benevolence towards His devotees.

Some of the stories were rehashed, but then, they still were entertaining to listen to again. For someone like me, if you are also interested in listening to stories then this Kindle book will entertain you immensely. There is a lot of information about the various religious figureheads and stories related to them are narrated with equal passion with which the other Puranic stories are narrated.

My Opinion

The Volume 2 keeps the interest going while providing new information about where the Pavai Nombu gathering has arrived at. This volume may be spent on waking up the girls, but at the same time, there is a lot happening with the internal cleansing process. With every discussion and arguments with the Goda and her friends to wake the missing girls, the internal thought is cleared and focused on Lord Krishna and his many avatars.

The Presiding Goddess of the River of Human Imagination

Book Title: Saraswati’s Secret River

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Devdutt Pattanaik is an excellent storyteller who brings back the magic of Indian myths and mythological stories. These stories are said in a conversational tone which makes it very appealing to read. The art of storytelling is at a matured state with this author, since he takes the various curves of the story with relative ease and making the story very appealing.

The Story in a Nutshell

A surprised school teacher meets the goddess of education, Goddess Saraswati and learns something new in history, geography, and literature. This is the most needed lesson for any aspiring students and teachers because it brings out the true essence of education. In the search of the River Saraswati, the readers come to terms with the actual river and how it can be saved.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the structure of the story. There were many facts which were imaginatively displayed and interlinked with the Saraswati River which has dried up. The best way to revive this river was provided in this book with an interesting twist.

I disliked the fact that the book was a very small one and ended very soon. I wished that I could spend more time with the River Saraswati and explore the true path towards being educated.

My Opinion

I found the take away from the book on what happens to be the true value of education. The mad rush for earning high scores, and somewhere down the lane, the joy of learning is totally lost. The idea is not to keep getting higher mark by mere replication of the text. I liked the idea of a day’s class was by following what made a student curious about on that particular day.

There is another thing that is equally interesting to note which is explained beautifully in this book. When one learns about a topic, the related subjects become interlinked, which then, enhances the student’s thought process. This thought I found it very interesting and innovative in this book. This is a great one time read but it is also something leaves you thinking about our education system and reviving River Saraswati in ourselves is an excellent thought.

Image Source:  Saraswatis Secret River

Karna’s Tragic Personal Choices and Its Outcome

Book Title: Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen

Author: Kavita Kane

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 3.25 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

The central character is Princess Uruvi of Pukeya and she is the main storyteller. The entire novel is from her perspective. Karna as her husband is seen from her emotional view. Uruvi way of looking at things is colored with her sense of being fair towards all.

She is caught between two men, who are arch-rivals determined to fight to death, if the opportunity arises. How that opportunity arrives and how it pans out is the entire story narrated mostly from Uruvi’s view and later, the narration of war has more than one voice.

Uruvi’s thoughts are well-structured about various aspects of women’s role in the society of ancient India. Woman are used and discarded with little thought in the ancient world even if they were Princess or Queen. A woman is just a prized object to be donated like an object for fulfilling allegiance towards the winner of the competition.

Kavita juxta poses the various strong women characters and comments using the view from Uruvi’s point. The enforced choices that each woman makes in their personal and social life nags Uruvi’s sense of right. Of course, Queen Kunti’s choices directly affects Uruvi’s life.

Story in a Nutshell:

Mahabharata unlike Ramayana has many side stories, that culminated in the eventual battle, that defined the balance of justice. The novel is about lesser known stories that are not even mentioned about Karna’s life. His personal life as seen by his second wife Princess Uruvi gives an insight into this most wronged character of the epic.

Karna’s obsession to be recognized as man of honor and remove the label of his low birth, almost colors everything in this story. Throughout the novel, his view of how the society sees him plays the vital part of all decision-making. He feels trapped in his role of an adopted son of a Charioteer.

He is also unwilling to give up on his adopted family, while secretly harboring angst on his natural parents for abandoning him. At every given point of decision-making, he sides the people who had stood by him, despite the mystery behind his true identity. The fact that they stood with him against all odds, becomes the factor for his steadfast loyalty towards them.

He is so loyal to his friend, that he is willing to support him even when his friend is wrong. By way of association Karna also becomes the villain of the piece. Karna’s strength of conviction, that his friend is faultless is so strong, that he is unwilling to see it differently, even when, Uruvi points out the fallacies of Duryodhana.  

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

Karna’s life from the perspective of Uruvi might not be a complete portrayal of this misunderstood and failed war-hero. This specific aspect about Karna really captured my imagination.The motif played throughout the novel is one of societal recognition and bearing the label of being a ‘sutaputra.’ Kavita portrays Uruvi as someone who makes her choice of selecting the man she desired to wed; but even in that, the wedlock didn’t give Uruvi the joy that she hoped for; yet there was some really endearing moments in her married life with Karna.

War by any standards has elements to it, that leaves behind a bitter after taste. As you witness, how Uruvi’s simple statement, that her love for Karna was unconditional and watch how it becomes a hindrance to her understanding of her own mind, as her very choice of her man brings her morale down. Karna is forced by his principle to side the bad men. Uruvi has great difficulty accepting this and never gives up, even though she points out the fault in Karna’s processed thoughts.

At the same time, there are glimpses to Karna’s characteristics, which reveals a man of honor and integrity, that even his bad choice of friendship and misplaced loyalty, this only makes him a tragic hero whose redemption was not possible, even past his death.

Both Karna’s loyalty to Duryodhana and Uruvi’s love towards Karna are nemeses choice for them. The lead pairs make the story a tragic loss of noble beings. Yet, it invokes a pathos in the readers for Karna’s end in the battlefield, disarmed and helpless. His death was already decided by the set of curses from his tutors and other celestial beings. He is nonchalant about his actions from the past and that almost places the final wood piece on his preset pyre.   

Kavita’s voice when she used minimalist brush stroke for the Kurukshetra war in the voice of Uruvi, brought out the dire straits of war in a more poignant style.With each fall of brave warriors of the lore, the war gets to be uglier to even watch through the voices of the varied narrators. One can feel the deep sense of despondency and death of humanity in general.

My Opinion

I believe when reading ancient stories, one must treat them as literature that often reflect the past era. There are two variant contingent thoughts for me. One, do we look at the ancient past as a more advanced pure age, or two, do we see it as an era that is just pulling its way into the more advanced thought processing era.

When we use the prism of the past being much more progressive than the present, then I feel there is a lot of disappointment instore for the readers. Since, the story speaks of everything going from bad to worse. The Mahabharata war ends the Indian Bronze age and ushers in the Iron age or Kaliyuga. As per ancient text, the Iron age is riddled with all kinds of immoral activities and darkness. The story ends with a paraphrased statement about Karna and Uruvi’s son Vrishkethu being under Krishna and Arjuna’s guidance.   

So when we read the worst from the Bronze age the book leaves one hopeless of the coming age.There are no positive thoughts at all. One even feels sad for the violence in Duryodhana’s death. As a retelling and narration of Princess Uruvi and Karna’s life this book is truly wonderful to read, though it is a one bumpy emotional ride.    

Image Source: Karna’s Wife Cover page

 

My First Book on Kindle Paper White | The Experience

Book Title: Half-Girlfriend

Author: Chetan Bhagat

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Chetan Bhagat is a writer of Indian origin and widely recognized as popular stream writer. The New York Times calls him “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history”. Of course, you can check the Wikipedia for more info. But I found his official website more informative. I found the Q & A very interesting.

Chetan’s style of writing at least for this novel was very down-to-earth and simple. If I read another story of his, then I can make out if his natural style is to be simple and to the point. But in this novel the storyteller’s voice is very distinctive which I liked.

Chetan as a storyteller gets to my sensitive emotional points, I am invested in the story that he draws out of those bear necessity words. I am someone who reads Virginia Woolf for light reading. I love complex sentences and I am a long sentence writer myself. If sentences get complex and beat around the bush, then one is studiously serious to offer something important to the world. All hail my misconceptions!

But then, if you the above kind of reader, then you are in for a shock, because the main characters one from Bihar and another from Delhi don’t do language. For the most parts, the story moves like an art movie giving an immense sense of reading between the lines. Storyteller was such a pleasure to listen to.

Story in a Nutshell:

A typical college love story and the fate of the lovers in the face of varied life challenges. Relationship definitions under Indian setting and how much goes into maintaining one. The story has been set in contemporary timeline and space-out for a few years. Will the lovers and their love succeed? Well, that is something you might want to read the book and get to know.

The leads Madhav Jha and Riya Somani are in a not-yet-there relationship. A tug of war of emotions that creep in slow process which indicate where the relationship is headed. Simple thing is that the story is about a boy who loves a girl. That girl feels she not yet ready for him and rest of the story is all about why she isn’t and if she would ever be ready to accept his love!

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

There were places in this novel, that I felt Chetan just chickened out. But one thing was very strong for him and that is his English is superlative in its simplicity. He never strayed away from simple and compound sentences and used complex sentences only if he was pushed by the narrative. This makes the story so smooth flowing in the head and reads well.

Books take the head space and I think of it as a tête-à- tête session between the storyteller and the reader. Unlike watching a movie, it is not a communal activity, though the discussion of the books among friends could be a group activity of like or different minded people. So, when I read the book, there were moments when I was rushing to put things together. But Riya’s reasons for her silence was such a shock for me. Do this say that woman are vulnerable all their life on earth.

But I felt Chetan didn’t do a psychological twist on it and couch crashed Riya. I liked that a lot. Sometimes, somethings need to be just not explicit but suggestive. The book is an excellent light read and a travel companion during transit.

This book was a little unusual for me, because I was in the mind of a male and with the view of woman’s thought process from male perspective. Though it was very interesting space to be in, I did feel that emotional complexity and frustration were beautifully administered.

My Opinion

Chetan Bhagat right after Shashi Tharoor was an extreme relief. Shashi’s book cooked my brain while Chetan’s book was a fluffy omelet. IMHO, I believe that this book is wonderfully light reading and of course, the movie version of this book has some beautiful songs.

Image Source:   Amazon

Panoramic View of History of India

Book Title: India Shastra | Reflections on the Nation in our Time

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Author:

This book is the first of my political books that I have ventured to read up. Shashi Tharoor as an author is very structured and articulate. His thoughts are progressive and innovative. Each chapter has been written with the mindset to expand the readers thoughts and get a general perception of true advancement of India.

As a person who has held official posts in the Indian government, he speaks erudite lingo of progress. Sometimes the best expressed thoughts create the right kind of impact on the readers. As an author I found him to be convincing with much of the intelligence of political tendency to be articulate to a fault.

Sometimes, I found him to be pro-congress in his expressions. I think that is expected given that he belongs in the Congress party. But I was disappointed that it colored some of his perceptions, I looked forward for some fair deal in voicing what Congress did wrong too. But then loyalties are stood up to by using finesse of expressions.

Book in a Nutshell:

The book is divided into 8 section under the varied topics, and sub-topics are covered with well structured thought process. This gives a reader a complete panoramic view of India’s political stand from Pre-Independence day to Modified days. The book contains some really interesting information bundled into knowledge packets. The past, present and future of India is beautifully drawn using words as a medium.

The author has been really sharp and erudite in expressing his visions, provisions for better Indian governance. The common goal of India has been given a beautiful platform to perform and excel with good and wise leadership at the helm. Is there a single party that can provide good leadership at the helm is still open for a debate?

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

Shashi Tharoor as a thinker is par excellence. His thought process is really the niche that this book enjoys and educates the readers. The fact that India at various stage of history has been bouncing back on its feet and continuing its journey of progress. As the largest live democracy India’s political engine works with its regular set of maintenance requirement.

Per se, I had no dislikes about the book; but I did felt that Shashi couldn’t prevent the voice of his party infringe his words in certain places. If BJP voices strongly against minority, then Congress goes equally loud on religion and other weaker points of BJP. But then, there is no ownership to faults in Congress governance. This could possibly be that while representing a greater machine of Democracy’s working in voting populace that will get your eyes popping, I believe the Laxmanian Common Man has to bear the brunt.

My Opinion

I must say that the book was really much more informative than the history book that I read in my school days. Given the requirement to rote learn all details, I wonder if history books do carry the truth or truth according to the group that won the war. When I read Shashi Tharoor’s history, then I wondered all the hardship of memorizing even the swatted shape of a dead mosquito in my history book doesn’t serve the purpose of educating me. But given so many wars, humans have yet to learn that war is futile and not worth all those bloodshed.

History is often written by the winners of the situation and it is angled to make the winner’s look better. But history is always is written on blood that will leave you cold and rebuked as an outcaste. But then what does the common man want of all this history upheaval? I would say that the night will follow the day and likewise, various parties may come and go; but still, public problems are just that, public problem unresolved.

Image Source: Flipkart

Tagore’s Package of Unforgettable Characters

Book Title:  The Very Best Short Stories of Rabindranath Tagore

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Translator:  N/A

Rating:  4.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Tagore was always a fascination for me. In the very early formative years, I had read the Kabuliwahal piece from a borrowed and dog-eared copy of the short stories by this author. His way of telling a story is really appealing for two main reasons.

One is that he takes his time narrating; while ensuring to maintain the reader’s interest in the plot. Another reason is that, I found ancient voices talk to me with familiarity which was endearing to me in my mind.

Every story seemed well contemplated and effortlessly wrote. Be it The Postmaster, Kabuliwahal, Subha, or The Castaway every single story left a feeling of satisfaction; while encouraging being a creative thinker who is progressive.   Tagore was change-maker using one word at a time fitted in neat concepts.

Story in a Nutshell:

These are collection of stories about people in and around Kolkata and West Bengal. These stories are set in late days when the British Government was replaced with self-governance of India. The entire psyche of the Bengalis and of the immigrants makes an impact on the story plot; while providing a beautiful canopy of experiences for the readers. It is wonderful cosy blanket weaved into short plots that carried human emotions and feeling with great precision.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I really love the idea of short stories. Short pieces are hard to write; but great to read. The workmanship of Tagore in these pieces is really worth more than one reading. I am still trying to learn from the style that Tagore used for his short stories. There is never a moment of boredom in these stories; which happily amble their way to the finish. I didn’t have any dislike about the pieces but maybe I wanted to read more stories by Tagore.

My Opinion

I feel that this is a great book for beginning readers because it is reflective and simple at the same time. I would recommend it to students of 6th grade without any fear of censorship for some of the stories. But there are some adult stories too in the collection. The stories are euphemistically done with an eye-for-perfection.

Image Source: Embassy Book