someday ill be in company of all....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review:The Road to Serfdom by F.A Hayek

Title: The Road to Serfdom
Author: F.A Hayek
Publisher: 9780415255431
Pages: 272
Price: Routledge
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Buy The road to serfdom from

Addressing economics, fascism, history, socialism and the Holocaust, Hayek unwraps the trappings of socialist ideology. The Road to Serfdom remains one of the all-time classics of twentieth-century intellectual thought.

Hayek the professor in him has tried to put together his intellectual thoughts on the roots of the problem that European world suffered in WWII and how from the mistake of pasts through war they are given a chance to start over all over again in a better way...Yet they (U.S and Europe) are not willing to learn from their past mistake and built a better future..I skipped the introduction my Milton Friedman and I may not have any excuse to that..

This book is sort of a warning on how socialism can lead to autocracy..Published in 1940's the book is most sought for its theories and ideologies..His main focus is on how economic intervention to better a situation can finally lead to further intervention and finally resulting in autocracy for they replace the existing market and hence the whole bearings rest upon a few individuals, hence onto their freedom and thoughts and not the democracy..He attempts to elaborate on how the act to do good can calculatingly do bad..For example in a socialist society an individual assumes that he has the choice to make but then his choices depends on the current scenario of the market which in itself has limited scope.Planning that goes over in the market actually takes away the freedom with which they can work on with..The book is divided into 15 chapters..each chapter explains different angles of the same problem of the market and governing authorities...

He starts with the current state of affairs though it dates back very close to 70 years ..he explains through narcissism , how the whole world has feared  Hitler and how all the country put their effort, resource and energy to overcome the tyranny..Every country  trying  in its own way to explain the current situation that existed then and  there by trying come into terms which eventually failed unless all put their effort in a unified thoughts for a solid solution but there after and the big chaos of war, the schemes that supposedly put for development issues , brought the whole situation under single solid domain of autocracy..Even when people were warned by the evil of socialism people fail to notice the change and their lose of freedom..People are bombarded with the false hope of totalitarianism that they fail to see...They fail to realize that they are losing their basic rights to freedom..

According to Hayek Socialism that is figured as a way to total freedom by diluting the disparity among the difference in income across hierarchy prevailing in society is not what it seems to be..For this he quotes France as an example that fell as a pray and eventually most European countries saw the upcoming danger of the free world in the name of Socialism and its dangers...In other words Socialism sprouted to Fascism in a from the palette..Mussolini who started off as a socialist went on to be fascist..There are always competition among fascists and socialism as according to Hayek they are all fighting for the same position..

Hayek has tried to clear the doubts and the confusion that socialism evokes..As socialism is seen as an epitome of security and equality,..But as socialism works its way to abolish privatization and an individual holding the supreme but distribution of the benefit and profit among the group can bring about planning system that will in turn have control over everything which is the confusion that the socialist attitude can bring about but in turn they all try to control people to serve their own purpose...

The confusion is when common good and general welfare is a variable constant and such that there would be a set of people who might get together  with same thoughts and they form into a group of free thinking people while they supposedly think that they are the ones who can think for common good and their thoughts as a representation of the common wave while many a times this may not be the case..

The impairment  arises when these set of people start to make rules and all are bound to live within the limits of these law tagged in the label of freedom of choice when actually one is forced to choose among the choices...He quotes Nazi government for this who at the outset projected themselves to be a representation of mass and took a stand on many things in the name e of bringing out change for betterment to the very people who were later opppressed..

According to Hayek any planned economy is nothing about autocracy, a tyranny in a more sophisticated order that steals away the freedom of people...Even when it comes to the choice of job the freedom to choose are limited to the positions available in the market that the government provides, controlling them the way they want ., all in the name of socialism and common good with better planning and fiscal security...

In a planned economy competition is created in the market creating  a disparity among people who can afford distinguishing from the people who can't afford...This  leaves with just  one choice to the poor of becoming rich there by entitling themselves a chance to afford..The leaders are the one who decide the incomes and their outcome, leaving behind the very good motto of common good far behind ... they also fail  in the most important fact of freedom of people by controlling them indirectly...

Even security is relatively controlled to minimum standard of living where a particular income can guarantee only a certain kind lifestyle while a slight fluctuation in the market would in turn reflect in the same...A person makes a choice of his way of life based on the income, hence highly paid jobs becomes  lucrative while lowly paid makes a job unattractive..

The problem occurs when socialism take the state of oppression with many to follow and being oppressed by a leader or a group of leaders.. The group that follows  has no independent judgments or thoughts to oppose the oppressor..The situation goes to the extend that even people start to think the way their leader wants them to creating a  complete harmony in a convincing way..

According to Hayek, be it fascism or narcissism they all took their roots from socialism out of Marxist theory.. He quote how Sombart switched their stand from Marxist theory to the socialist ground while Plenge points out the problems of individual freedom in socialism..

While people are still surprised on how narcissism came into being in Germany, but  as per Hayek it was quite predictable as German opposition to British liberalism was the reason for the German state of affair..
However, the complication started when the current generation oppose market hence indirectly pave way for the individuals or the governing authority to take over that leads  to further suppression..Further planning shifts the hands on labor in a different way at the outset while the core remains all the same...

As we cannot achieve international peace for serving one country's economic end sacrificing their fellow countrymen and not coming into terms for common good .. Hence we will never let anything bring a positive solution for the common good..

My favourite quote is "The coming of socialism was to be the leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom"..(page 25)
Hayek's language may not be easily understood but once your onto it things become clear to the extend that you start nodding to his way of expressions..

According to me socialist way of society gives us with a way to pursue a path away from labor work  or non-economically  productive way life, living a life of ones passion on arts, science and education itself while in times of scarcity the very same members might be the cause of disability and much of chaos..Many a times lack of incentives itself might contribute for unwanted competition that itself make the situation quite unstable with low standard of living and poor health...While I might be naive at pointing out the only advantage of capitalism as the least governmental interference while the very same advantage could act as a dagger with the situation being unchecked leading to a much of impairment of the people at the working class..Hayek theories has been much sought for for its own good and deeper thoughts while to me his thoughts were like the philosophy that people come up with their own version of  interpretation..

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Garlic and Sapphires:The secret life of a critic in disguise by Ruth Reichl

Title: Garlic and Sapphires:The secret life of a critic in disguise
Author: Ruth Reichl
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 352
Price: Rs 1106
ISBN: 9780143036616
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Borrowed

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Ruth Reichl, world-renowned food critic and former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, knows a thing or two about food. She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world—a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl reveals the comic absurdity, artifice, and excellence to be found in the sumptuously appointed stages of the epicurean world and gives us—along with some of her favorite recipes and reviews—her remarkable reflections on how one’s outer appearance can influence one’s inner character, expectations, and appetites, not to mention the quality of service one receives.

Books on food plus memoir are always fun to read..I chose this book particularly because it said that Ruth Reichel author of the book made dinning at the Asian inspired cuisine cool, so I just wanted to know more about this powerful author bit more..

"With great power comes great responsibilities" that is a famous quote from Spider man -I.This is a similar situation that Reichel  faced as being a food critic for the New York Times..The book is her reminiscence of her six years tenure at the Times. Starts with her interview and how she landed on the hot seat..Being in the hot chair of a popular office means she is bound to me known, hence she feared she would fail in her duty with a honest opinion as she would be bestowed with lavish treats and luxurious care when compared to a normal customer, so she decides to get help from Claudia , her mother's friend who retired acting coach and then on starts a fun, entertaining story of Reichel in her new avatar...Claudia, Reichel with the help of professional makeup artists start to work on with different characters from her dress to wig to make up to make the disguise more authentic for Reichel..She superbly gets into the act of different people with unique accent, voice and modulations....She acquired everything needed for the character to come alive and they were very different from Reichel itself..

Through all we see different aspects of Reichel's life, her son's excitement on every getup, her husband's opinion and family's support  highlighting the point how friends and family's support go on a long to run in making of a success story...Her disguise includes Molly, Betty, Brenda,Miriam, Chloe..These characters ranges from teacher, to blonde, to hippie, to divorced old lady..At times she gets into the sexiest clothes that lands on with over-weighed attention to the extend of being asked on for date in a different restaurant that she has to review anyways, while for other character she gets into over-sized Armani suits with three skirts to add puffiness, fake wrinkles to brows and very different wigs for each person she becomes, I really was wonderfully how she might have looked in the hippie costume..She goes to the extend of getting credit cards on the fake names..Of course she gets to restaurants in her own self and feels the change in the treatment..Describing all about the disguises she has not left out with her review on restaurants and food..Her whole experience be it novelist or nonfiction they are total fun and entertaining.. There are few fun recipes too..

Her reviews has gone to extend of shattering the reputation of one of the supposedly best restaurants that abuses common people  while pampering the celebrities,while few lesser knows have had their limelight through her...

Her description about food makes you feel as though you are sitting right beside her and make you wish to  grab a quick bite from her plate..She just enjoys her food that makes her description amazing..Her description about food restaurant are very elaborate just like her costumes..She  focuses on the ethnic food joints that are inexpensive with good eating experience...

The book also make you  see food in a whole different perspective if you are among those who are too busy while you eat..She makes you to savor the moment of delicacy enjoying to deeper extend...She has described about her coworkers though the names have been changed you never know the extend of truth as her afterword says that many instances have been exaggerated and few being skimmed so the fact remains bit in between I guess...I felt Reichel is too good as a writer even as she describes her doorman's reaction at her various costumes to her personal conversation with her husband who keeps her down to earth are  revealing and enlightening at the very same time very engaging..

There is never a dull moment in the book even when you feel certain incidents for instance hell list of people waiting to call seem bit over the top..I would say just grab a copy and plunge into total fun...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harry Potter series

Title:Harry Potter Series
Author:J.K Rowling
Genre: Popular fiction
Source: Personal
Rating: 4.5/5 for first three books
4 for fourth 3.5 for 5th, 6th and 7th.

I started off as a hard core lover of harry potter series, my relationship with Rowling series began with the first book of course way back in my school days, I got to read the first book in my 7th grade...Though I was out of the fantasy tale somehow the magic caught up with me and  I was completely addicted to it..Harry and his entire enchanted world was something that I always wanted to live in..Don't you all as kids wished a dash of magic everywhere around us be it in the name getting rid of usual homework  or a  quick
spell so mom would forget to feed you with a glass of milk (i hated milk), time travel machine to get you to endless holidays and the list is endless.. Harry potter had it all.. Its just not about the magic but there is a deep message of friendship and trust and celebration  of  the whole spirit of childhood with the right mix of intellect and brilliance through Hermione, funtime with Ron, mischeivous brilliance of Fred and George, above all Harry Potter who kept all together through thick and thin..

Bottomline of  the novel is a battle of good vs evil that progresses through years in Hogwarts school of  witchcraft and wizadry...It all starts when Harry on his eleventh birthday discovers that he is a wizard though the letter of of acceptance from the school personally delivered by Gigantic Hagrid with a pack of birthday cake. Brought up in the household of Aunt Petunia with no love and care , he is pleasantly surprised with the revelation, and deeply happy for the change. At Hogwarts he is introduced to the world of magic filled with witches and wizardry he is  pleased with the world that becomes his life  and learns more about his parents , he also discovers that he is a natural at Quidditch that he has inherited from his father and above all he learns about Lord Voldemort whose mere name everybody is scared  and it is he who has left a scar on his forehead killing  his parents, who died trying to save him..Harry finds friendship through Ron and Hermione who stick with him till the end..He slowly finds love, friendship (which is the important theme of the story), the book 'HP and the Sorcerer's Stone' starts with the trio saving the philosopher's stone from professor Quirell's who in turn is trying to help Lord Voldemort's back to life..The mere touch of Harry burn Quirell..

Second book 'HP and the Chambers of Secret'  they save Ron's sister Ginny (who reads a chapter from a diary that opens a gate for a monster from 'The chamber of secrets' in Hogwarts )..Harry also happens to destroy one of Voldemort's soul (horcrux) and killing the monster in the chamber.

Following is the next book 'HP and the prisoner of Azkaban' ...In the third year of Hogwarts, Harry and his friends come across Remus Lupin one of the wonderful defense against dark arts teacher, apparently Lupin also happens to be one Harry's parents closest friends, this is the year where we are introduced to Rowling's dreadful creatures called the Dementors who guard the prison where the wizardry criminals are held captive , these Dementors can suck the happiness and any trace of peace from human upon close contact..Harry  finds about about his godfather Sirius Black who has been alleged for betraying his parents, the trio with the help of time travelling machine help Black escape from Azkaban , fight against Dementors yet again proving that Harry is indeed destined for greatness..

After the third book, I found my interest in Harry dwindling ..Though the first four books were released in my school days, I got to read Goblet of fire only in my college days..

In the fourth book 'HP and the Goblet of fire' and the fourth year of Hogwarts,  Hogwarts is hosting a Tri-wazard contest which is like an inter school competition  is open only to the senior students .In this, we get to see many witches, professors from other magic schools as well, of course what fun without Harry into the contest but then he is not eligible to enter still someone make sure that he enters and gets to the final stage of the competition.. The tournament cup is a portkey( transportation object for wizard that transports them to predetermined upon touch)  he and Cedric Diggory (fellow contestant) are transported to cemetery and come face to face with Voldemort..Voldemort takes Harry's blood and restores his life, in close seconds Cedric dies but Harry survives..All this happens through one of Voldemort's supporter who impersonates as Professor Moody ..

Fifth book 'HP and the Order of Phoenix' witnesses a lot of activities as the Ministry of Magic intervenes on the school's activities, Prof Dolores Umbridge takes on the charge as the defense against dark arts teacher and becomes the high inquisitor of the school, outraged by the syllabus Harry with his friends start 'Dumbledore's army', Harry learns about Order of Phoenix a secret society that is set up by witch working hard to keep the world of magic away from Voldemort..Harry is taught Occlumency , a magical defense of mind from external mind reading and control from Prof Snape and he is having trouble concentrating.. Harry again with his friends fight against Voldemort's supports in the Ministry of Magic who are trying to get their hands of the glass sphere of prophecy..There is a strong fight against the teenagers and the dark witches in the dual the order of phoenix join them and during the fight Sirius Black is killed ..The prophecy state that Harry has a superior power that Voldemort doesn't possess and that either Harry destroy Voldemort or be killed by him..This year he also learns why Harry has to return to Privet Drive to his Aunt Petunia for every miserable summer holidays..

Fifth Book 'HP and the Half-blood Prince' Harry gets his hands on a book signed by an enigmatic half blood prince filled with many annotations, potions and many entries.. This is this book we see many social activities ..Harry's attraction for  Cho fades and he starts dating Ginny while Ron and Hermione's love also blossoms.. Harry learns from Dumbledore  that Voldemort's soul is split into many Horcruxe which has been hidden in many places..Together they start  the search of them travelling through Voldemort's past life..Harry has to find and destroy them to completely kill Voldemort...Professor Snape finally attains the post of being the defense against dark arts teacher , at the end of the book we see Snape killing Professor Dumbledore, the reason is revealed only upon the the death of professor Snape...

In the final and the seventh book, 'HP and the Deathly Hallows',  the battle in open, Voldemort regains power and takes over The Ministry of Magic, Harry and his friends drop out of Hogwarts in the quest  for Horcruxe .. Harry unravel the complicated personality of Professor Snape and the past of Prof Dumbledore.. Harry masters occlumency.. Harry learns through Snape's  memory that Harry happens to be one of the horcruxes hence lets himself be striked by Voldemort making Voldemort belive that he has finally killed Harry.. As all the horcruxes are destroyed in the final battle, tit finally comes down to Harry vs Voldemort and to the prophecy that "Neither can live while the other survives". The battle is deadly and we see lot of blood shed and deaths, Elder wand recognizes Harry as its true masters and refuses to kill Harry rebounding ..The same killing curse kills Voldemort who tried to kill Harry years ago bringing an end to the finale of the Harry Potter series..

As always with  famous series, Harry Potter too has been adapted to movie,  I  have  problem with a movie adapted from book as they lack details..Though I enjoyed the first two to some extend from the third onards I could not enjoy..

The book is the torch bearer of loyalty, bravery, courage under pressure, above all the zeal to believe in oneself. It underlines the point that in the fight between the good vs evil ,at the end its all about the good and not the evil..We witness many death, few are heart wrenching starting the list starts with Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore, Dobby, Hedwig, Moody, Lupin, Tonk, one of the twin brothers Fred Weasely..

Being said that to me the most complicated characters was that of Severus Snape. His detestation to harry right from the beginning of the series is only mutual ,this worsens through the consecutive series... Though he is bitter and cold to everything around him, he is brilliant in what he does, working as a teacher for potion, his eyes are always onto the post of defense against dark arts still he is a real master at potions too. His true character and  true loyalty is known only after this death through his memories..

And my favourite character is that of Hermione she is smart, annoyingly brilliant with know it all air, quick witted and a true friend when in need..

I liked the Rowling's fictional spells, and few words such as pensive (a storage gadget for memories), parsel tongue (language to communicate with snakes), Floo powder(powder that wizard use for travelling) there are many more that were quite interesting ..The magic world itself  is under the control of Ministry of magic with various departments under it, there are magical enforcement squad, a specially trained witches to keep the criminals on check, event courts and Prison of Azkaban to keep the crime under check..They live under strict rule that the world of wizard should  remain unseen to humans( muggles) at all cost..At the household of a witch, there are house elves (small creature that works as servant at wizard house with at most loyalty undergoing deep neglect) who help out with everyday activity..The world with Hogsmede(magical village) Quidditch  matches made the series a thing of wonder often adding feathers to my thoughts and imagination..We watch the shy kids' amazing transformation into matured, daredevil kind of people in league of legends fighting  against evil, with their own fear and doubt yet overcoming them all..

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: One flew over cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey

Title:One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Publisher: Penguin modern classics
Page: 320
Price: Rs 350
Source: Online
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. Ken Kesey's extraordinary first novel is an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.

Set in a mental asylum , One flew over cuckoo's nest somehow transcends a  message that it is fun to be crazy.. The story moves through the eyes of Chief Bromden a schizophrenic pretending to be deaf and dumb so that he goes unnoticed by others.The somber mood swifts off as Randle McMurphy is admitted as the new inmate Mc Murphy chooses a life in hospital to that of the hard labor at the farm , he has many good and not so good things to his credit, he is a breeze of fun, breaking rules is his favourite pass time, he is also allegedly accused of raping a juvenile..McMurphy befriends other inmates just like that , he even  get intimate with many, he lights up the whole environment by means of gambling and many other activities, in short he becomes a ball of energy ..Though one may not agree with his actions, nonetheless all are entertaining..
Of course things doesn't go on in this jolly spirit especially when the whole hospital is supposedly under the strict regime of Ratched the chief nurse who runs the hospital with iron fist..I happily and instantly disliked her..Many a times Mc Murphy pushes his way playing around with Ratched.. But the problem is Mc Murphy can get into serious trouble as Ratched can get him lobotomized which is her extreme end of action towards patients..The problem is no matter Mc Murphy tries his way, the fact would be that he is a patient and Ratched being the nurse  gives her the upper hand over any situation and force him or any patient  for that matter  to go through any kind of medication in the name of therapy..Ratched does manages to keep McMurphy on check for few days...When Ratched almost thinks that everything is under her control things go hayward ..
Mc Murphy ways are bit off track, for example he carries cards that has sexual positions in place of kings, queen and jacks, he even smuggles  wine and finally get prostitutes into the hospital premises...He helps Billy (another inmate) with prostitutes company...This doesn;t go unnoticed by Ratched but what follows was something none could imagine, Ratched  itimitade Billy and he commits suicide, accuses Mc Murphy for his actions..Then on there is a situation of conflicts between Ratched and Mc Murphy finally one day Mc Murphy is taken to lobotomy ward and gets back to the ward in a vegetative state..Bromden unable to bear to watch him in this state kills him and relives him off the agony..Brombden escapes the hospital hikes a ride and set a new path towards his freedom...
Though McMurphy tries to breathe an air of happiness into the lives of inmates at the hospital , on a closer watch the book is a mix of gender bias and racial discrimination ..This might because of the era the tale was set in..Even when you don't agree with Ratched, there are instance when McMurphy works hard to prove  that Ratched is just a woman..
On a positive note, the novel explores the fine line between insanity and sanity and how people can be easily pushed to a state of so called of insanity by the surrounding and how seclusion can only aggravate the situation than help.
Kessey highlights on the liberation of mind invariably of the situations. Kessey has succeeds  in creating an image of hospital , ward, nurse and inmates just like one is watching a movie... I read somewhere that Kessey underwent an electroshock just to get the feel so that he could write about it better, now call that going extra mile on what you do...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review:The home and the world by Rabindranath Tagore

Tittle: The home and the world
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9780143031413
Price: Rs 350
Genre: Classics/ Indian writing
Source: Personal
Rating: 4 out of 5

There is nothing static, earthbound or lifeless about it . . . It has the complexity and tragic dimensions of Tagore's own time, and ours"-Anita Desai Set against the backdrop of the Partition of Bengal by the British in 1905, Home and the World (Ghare Baire) is the story of a young liberal-minded zamindar Nikhilesh, his educated and sensitive wife Bimala, and Nikhilesh's friend Sandip, a charismatic nationalist leader whom Bimala finds herself attracted to. A perceptive exposition of the difficulties surrounding women's emancipation in pre-modern India, and a telling portrayal of the chasms inherent in the nationalist movement, Home and the World has generated endless debate and discussion. This classic novel by Nobel Prize-winner Rabindranath Tagore, first published in Bengali in 1916, is now available in a lucid new translation.

Classics stand tall by the passing time for its richness and the grandeur of style and substance..That is why Leo Tolstoy's (Okay that's just one example)poetic prose appeals to me even now on a sunny afternoon anytime..
Nikhilesh aka Nikhil belongs to a high class as per social hierarchy of 1900's..His marriage to Bimala was arranged way back  when they were quite young for marriage.. As a homemaker she is dutiful, devoted to her house hold chores  treats her husband as god which is a result of her social upbringing and not kindled by her  self thinking and analysis..Things turns upside down when Sandip (Nikhil's friend) come to stay with them..Sandip is handsome, with a sense of appeal, he could play with words , he has the ability to attract any passer by with his charisma and above all he is an active member of Swadesi movement.  Swadesi movement was a part of India's struggle for Independence from British regime that spanned for  over a century...Swadeshi movement was the period when Bengal was partitioned by Lord Curzon in 1905 much to the disagreement of popular opinion, and the movement spanned over a period of six years..The novel  revolves around this period and set in Bengal..We can feel the pulse and the vibration of the movement throughout not only in the backdrop but also in the four main characters viz Nikhil, Bimala, Sandip and Amulya... 
That being said with Sandip coming to the picture the whole story gathers momentum and by the turn of events you get an idea of another triangle classic being staged soon in the story , well you might be partially right, but then "the home and the world" present it in a different flavour with a different seasoning with right amount of emotions and  right characterization that doesn't make it overboard.. Sandip with his idealism and zeal for the country captures Bimala's fancy and all her dormant emotions and passion for freedom of thoughts and life sprouts with beautiful shades .Their relationship blossoms barring the social restrictions taking the shade of attraction and lust..Surprisingly Nikhilesh frees her of all her familial bonds but alas that's when she realizes Sandip's core of ugliness that's been draped with the beautiful wrap of patriotism, dignity and nobility..She understands that his true ambition is to be a leader for his personal benefit  at the cost of others..He uses every single person in the walk of his life for his benefits and throw them later...Bimala then tries her way to save Amulya (who is a blind follower of Sandip) from the insignificant hands of Sandip...

The characters are not what they seem  in the beginning, for example Nikhil at the outset seem to be quite passive but as the novel progresses we get to know him better, he understand that his passiveness comes from the his ability to think deep weighing everything before acting.While Sandip who preaches great things with high ideologies turns out to be quite shallow..Bimala who has no much personal views transforms into independent free thinking women who realizes the need of women in the struggle for independence, though she is gullible to effervescence of Sandip,  she is quick to in her action to save Amulya falling into the Sandip's trap...
Nikhish is a character who is  too good to be true, Sandip's selfishness in the name of patriotism and idealism  makes the character not likable and Bimala is the mix of two with her mix of virtues combined with a mix of flaws.Tagore makes the novel with a combined flavour of lyrical prose and philosophical thoughts through the characters..The novel explores various conflicts one is that of idealism and falseness, the reality that freedom would bring about, awareness to that of neglectfulness to the changing scenario of the country. 
The book goes a step higher when each character describes his or her thoughts upon Swadesi movements and their own turmoil to keep up with the changes around them..The book also explores the not so good part of the freedom movements upon the lesser known set of individuals of the society.
This was the first Tagore's book I read outside my school syllabus, and I thoroughly enjoyed it..Originally written in Bengali the book is a translated version...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: As a man Thinketh by James Allen

Title: As a man thinketh
Author: James Allen
Publisher: Manu Graphics
Price: Rs 95.00
ISBN: 9789380078557
Genre: Inspirational
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal

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As A Man Thinketh provides the readers with insights into the effects of the thoughts they harbor, upon their life. This book comprises seven chapters, which include Visions and Ideals, Serenity, Effects of Thoughts on Health and the Body, The Thought-Factor in Achievement, Thought and Purpose, Effect of Thought on Circumstances, and Thought and Character.
In the first chapter, Allen tells the readers that a man is what he thinks he is, and his character is the sum of all his thoughts. He further explains that man can improve his current state in life by simply choosing to think the right thoughts, and implementing them correctly. Allen goes on to draw the link between the effects of thoughts on circumstances, explaining that a person’s destiny is influenced by their thoughts. He further states that a person’s current phase in life is due to their thoughts and actions.
Allen also provides insight into the analogy that the body is the mind’s servant, and explains that thoughts, whether good or bad, will have an effect on the body for better or for worse. He also tells the readers that they should fight to achieve their goals, and make certain sacrifices as well. Allen also encourages the readers to dream big, and states that their dreams would be their future destiny in life. He also deals with the quality of serenity, explaining that having a calm mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom, indicating that it is the outcome of long and patient effort in self-control.
This book was written in the early 1900's and I'm amazed that how the thoughts remain so everlasting...Its been few years since last I read an inspirational books, but this particular one caught my attention as it said that this book is the mother of all inspirational books for the generation to come and after reading it I saw why.The book itself is just 90+ pages and single thought could be developed into a book by itself..
Allen hasn't tried to elaborate them and explain concepts through anecdotes but has simply given the thoughts for the reader to contemplate and take it in one's own stride.The book is divided into seven chapters viz.,  thoughts and character, effect of thought on circumstance, effect of thought on health and body, thought and purpose, the thought factor in achievement, visions and ideals, serenity and the final one is dedicated to quotes by Allen..
The theme of the book is the its mans thoughts that defines his life and his future.I read the famous book secret by Rhonda Byrne and I could see many thoughts were derived from this one only difference is that Byrne focuses on the universe while Allen is more driven towards god as the divine power...Allen says that a godlike image is not by chance but by a man's persistent way of associating himself with such thoughts.(p-20).
One particular quote that I loved is in the chapter-effect of circumstances,  Circumstance does not make a man but that reveals him.(p-32) how true.
Few other quotes that I found interesting :Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.(p-33) and Nature helps every man to gratification of thoughts, which he most encourages.(p-45)

I  had my reservations on the chapter on the effect of thought on health and the body, I'm not sure if all disease and ailments are a result of one's thought if so then how can one describe about disease of a new born baby's  is it the result of the mothers though?? he uses his images to get more focus on things..

They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles and self-pitying. In short a man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it.The thought factor in achievement  he explains that a persons sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within.(p-67) In visions and ideals he explains by quoting examples of Columbus who cherished a vision of another world, and he discovered it;Copernicus fostered the vision of a multiplicity of worlds and a wider universe and he revealed it, Buddha beheld the vision of a spiritual world of stainless beauty and perfect peace, and he entered into it.(p-78). Finally I would like to wind up with the thought, To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve (p-96).and this reminded me of this quote that goes something like this, "Our deepest fears is not that we are inadequate, our deepest feat is that we are powerful beyond measure, we ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous, actually who are you not to be?"In short man is the ultimate power of his being , making it or destroying is all the results of his own thoughts...

James Allen is an inspirational figure, so I thought I include that too
James Allen was a well-known philosophical author. Apart from this book, Allen wrote The Life Triumphant: Mastering The Heart And Mind, Man: King Of Mind, Body and Circumstance, James Allen’s Book Of Meditations For Every Day In The Year, and The Shining Gateway.
Allen was born on the 28th of November, 1864, in Leicester, England. His father was a factory knitter, and he travelled to America in 1879 after the downturn of the textile trade. Within two days of arriving in America, he was declared dead by the New York City Hospital, who put the case down to robbery and murder. Due to severe financial difficulties, Allen was forced to quit school, and start working. Through most of the 1890s, he held the position of a private secretary, and stationer at a number of British manufacturing companies. In 1893, he met Lily Louisa Oram, who he married in 1895. In 1898, he began to pursue his writing career working for a magazine called The Herald of the Golden Age. He later launched his own magazine named The Epoch, which his wife continued after his death in 1912.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: Age of Kali by William Darlymple

Title: Age of Kali:Indian Travels and encounters
Author: William Darlymple
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 408
Price: Rs 399
ISBN: 9780143031093
Genre: Travel / Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Borrowed

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Buy Age of Kali from

I read this book just after my secondary final exams some 10 years back, though William Darlymple is one of my favorite authors, the book did not impress me a it did back then.Age of Kalyug is a post independent India's modern face.
The book is not a travelogue ,but it also includes his encounters with people from different walks and different circumstances..Travelling, he doesn't stop with India but extends his visit to adjoining countries like  Pakistan and Sri Lanka with all its social unrest..
The book was written in late 90's and 90,s were indeed historic for India in terms of economic liberalization, series of nuclear tests that put India in the forefront, IT boom with many job opportunities,yet like two sides of the coin, there were events in the country that was quite contradictory to the positive events and somehow the book captures more of the grayer dull part of the coin.

That being said, Age of Kali refers to the final era as per Hindu scriptures wherein the world age is divided into four,viz., Satya, Treta, Dvapara and finally Kali yuga. Yuga means era. Kaliyug is believed to be apocalyptic age. It is believed that during this period human race would go down the lane of degeneration in terms spiritual being, social confusion, with moral sensibility to nil.In short it is the dark age of the era. And it is this dark age that Darlymple has captured. Though the history part and his experience stays,  the current events described in the books are bit outdated hence I had an urge to browse fast than read.

Darlymple effortlessly paints the multifaces of India ( all negative side) through the lanes of old  Lucknow bringing alive the gone by Mughal era and the Nawabs who are still caught in the web of  gone by days, the palatial houses, colleges housed in old buildings that are on the verge of destruction all paints a dark state of affair of the beautiful history transformed into tattered present,moving through the northeast frontiers, to Bodhgaya where Lor Budha had his enlightenment  are now guarded by the protection force for the safety of tourists.Later through Gwalior's history and cultural improvishment to the land of Deorala famous for sati (wife killing herself upon husbands death) incident.. Rajputs ruling over the underprivileged in the name of caste are the major points he notes.. He also observes the  dawn of a powerful middlewho are financially independent and well educated on a middle class and their struggle to lead a better life..
I felt that chapter on Sri Lanka, Pakistan could have been made into another independent book that would have ..But when it comes down to India and history you can see the magic of Darlymple all through the book.
What sets Darlymple apart from the crowd of foreign travelers through India is in his keen observational skills which is entwined with his  research , he also tries to compare and contrasts the relevance to the present among which few are convincing few may not.. Many facts are outdated and might sound bit boring..

The main problem with the book is when Darlymple tries to generalize, for instance Bangalore is not about the MNC food outlets or Miss India contest agitations nor people like Shobha De or Baba Sehgal represent the mass of then Bombay..I was surprised when Vrindavan was given an image of a place filled with abandoned and outcast widows, though that is one part but not the major one...The book fails to give a comprehensive picture of a place.Though Darlymple has tried to go beyond the people who hit headline by interviewing the widows, LTTE female wing leader in Srilanka, still somwhow I felt at many places he has failed to feel the pulse of the place by giving more importance to the circumstances he was subject to rather than the what people of the place were subject to.. The X factor that that made him my favourite author is missing in this one..

Through his journey he also happens to meet Laloo Prasad  and getting him some politically correct questions and stays diplomatic through out out..His rendezvous with Rajmata to Benazir Bhutto when onto till Imran Khan in Pakistan.
Like I said before through cultural clashes, caste discrimination, illiteracy in-equality down the social hierarchy reader starts feeling bad about everything ..One good thing is his zeal for his work,he would go to any extend in the pursuit to find his subject and talk to any kind of people for the same..But then why Darlymple couldn't find any goodness around.. This is a stark contradiction from a man who has been able to  find the different edge ad midst all unconventional situations...
In final chapters of reunion Darlymple moves to Srilanka and Pakistan... Pakistan was a part of India but then Sri lanka has been independent way too early even through mythology of project save Sita in Ramayana so then why was it all brought together..I couldn't agree with the author's nod to the Mandal commission that according to me turned India upside down in the name of caste for the sake vote banks..darlymples's venture through drug showers of North-west frontier is totally commendable..
The only point that brought smile across my face was the section that had a description of a  festival in Madurai, you can feel Darlymple's signature through the portrayal, be it the crowd or the set up around.

His book is an effort of comparison and description of  the domestic, ethnic, imperial, social and cultural changes through ages.The book paints more of the dull grey picture of the country and in spite of all the short comings I would still recommend this book But do  not take this book way too seriously as it has not aged gracefully..So go for The last Mughal and The white Mughal by the same author.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Finally a post!!!!!

I know i know it's been ages that I even logged into my blogger account.My research kept me super busy that I hardly had time to keep up with anything around and with my mobile been lost I have been literally cut off from social networks as well. Books have helped me to keep up with my otherwise serious work, I failed to squeeze in  time to blog..Now that I have found some time to breath and relax I thought Ill do justice to my blog..
 That being said I was wondering why not a fun post rather than a book review for change..So here are some random facts about me..

  1. I love my name and I love my parents for christening me Vibina Venugopal, but they hardly call me by it. I'm still figuring it out what it means.I use vb (vibi) in my blog.
  2. Way back in school days I happened to visit a research lab with research buzz at its peak, staring at the research scholars in those squeaky white coats gliding around ,touched a string in me and here I'm, a research scholar doing my doctorate of philosophy in chemical-ecology.
  3. I love reading so much that there are hardly few books that goes unread even if they do not fall into my kind of genre.For me its the process of reading that appeals, but then genre that I don't like consume more of my time.
  4. I do not stick to my TBR list, I buy books by  hunch though nowadays I try to stick to the list.
  5. My wishlist is piling than the list I have read..(err call it my disability to keep up!!!)
  6. Though my mother tongue is Malayalam, I can't write it well when compared to Hindi that I learnt in school.
  7. My efficiency with Tamil is the same as that of Malayalam.(okay now I'm trying to improve both). Though I learnt Sanskrit I'm not good at that either.
  8. I have always wanted to learn Italian and live there at least for a month, Florence is my THE place to visit before I die.
  9. I'm a coffee girl , kind of addicted to it.
  10. I'm crazy about travelling, both for fun and for work.I can sit in a train and can go on forever.That is the reason I started my travel blog which I have not been able to update for a year (Its time that I'm banged for it).I love photography too but the the even the basic technical terms (like aperture, shutter speed, ISO) is greek and latin to me.
  11. I'm not claustrophobic yet long dark and closed corridors scare me .
  12. As a young girl I wanted to have pets but my parents refused (frown frown), how I wish to have a Persian cat someday.
  13.  My reflex coordination is so great that if someone throws something at me 99%  of it it would land at my feet than my hand, and if I throw something to the bin it lands just aside the actual bin.
  14. I love my food to be hot and I'm more inclined to Indian delicacy than any foreign cuisine though I do experiment also I eat fast and don't like to talk while I eat.
  15. Though I cook my food, I wouldn't  call myself a good cook, cooking  is something I'm yet to explore and master.But my mom is a great cook.I hope I inherit her skills.
  16. My favorite color is red, "My name is red" is one of my favourite books.
  17. I love wind chimes, candles(scented or otherwise). I have many around my place, I keep changing my decor of my room just to beat the monotony , it could be even decor of the wall or the least  position of furniture.
  18. I love gardening but living in the second floor of the apartment all I could manage is few potted plants in my balco.
  19. I have a guitar in my place for sometime which I haven't been able to learn till day.
  20. I'm not a fan of Harry Potter series though I loved the first two and liked the third , but my interest eventually faded with the subsequent books, anyhow I read all of them.
  21. Same is the case with Twilight series.
  22. I'm positive and a cheerful person 90% of the day.
  23. I have many friends with  few close, whom I have been annoying right from my school days, but unfortunately all live far.
  24. I can get along well with kids.
  25. I hate to wait and I'm irritated when someone keeps me waiting. I don't go anywhere late that makes me anxious.
  26. Cavin and hobbes used to be my favourite comic, Tom Jerry my favourite cartoon.
  27. I love dark chocolates
  28. I used to be and still am terrible in sports.
  29. I'm spiritual and can be religious too.
  30. I love to write but I have given up the habit of writing in my personal journal.I love non-fiction than fiction.
  31. I love history and I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was in school.Though I did not become an archaeologist my love for history stayed. I used to be good in history than in science.
  32. I love shopping ( ok now all girls do!!) be it for myself or someone else.I Love the sheer pleasure of getting dressed and going out for shopping rather than online shopping.
  33. I always carry a pen, notepad, book, umbrella in my bag and I love bags over clutch. 
  34. I can't keep up people's name(so bare with me if I recognize you still do not address you by your name) and dates, every time I have to record it in my lab log I have to check at least twice.
  35. I'm  really bad with math.
  36. I used to  name everything around me (for example my laptop, my bed, etc etc) call it weird or well just being  me.
  37. Butterscotch is my favourite flavour and I hardly experiment with other flavours.
  38. Suspense freaks me out, I don't mind watching a movie knowing its story line.
  39. I love celebrating my birthdays.
  40. I love tattoos but I don't have one on me.
So these are few random facts about me, and see you around my my regular posts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: The Redeemers by Suresh Taneja

Title: The Redeemers
Author: Suresh Taneja
Publisher: Frog Books
Price: Rs 145
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Author

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Summary:(from back cover)
One bizarre vacation marked a turning point in the lives of four teenage friends. It dawned upon them that corruption and malpractices had become rampant and deeply ingrained in our culture. They felt anguished and shocked at the shameful state of affairs. They pledged to redeem and change the destiny of the country. They had only two weeks of vacation left to take some big initiatives. The pressure on them was immense. Status quo or failure was not an option for them. Read the inspirational story of a unique movement masterminded by youngsters through innovative ideas and creative thinking. Not a single family could escape from its unrelenting onslaught. It was a rewarding outcome for their persistence and hard work, as they nostalgically recall in 2030.

Its is 2030, and India is a super power (wow!!! Now who wouldn't want that), people who played the pivotal role in steering the country to this peak are the protagonist of this novel Redeemers, they are the G4 as they call themselves, comprising of Vikram, Yuvika, Manisha, Akshay ..They are the children of closley knit friends inheriting their friendship and values as a way of life.Its bee customary that as kids they grew up spending their vacation together, a custom that they have kept up..Its during one of such a get together that their story unwinds to their children who like their parents are thick...The story opens upon up in 2030 going back to 2099 back in their parents time the G3 group..

For a person like me who has problem remembering to many characters in a story author has given a family tree in the beginning..As the author refers the protagonists as the G3 as kids were nothing special , they had their happy fun filled moments with their parents with beauty and splendid living every moment, until one vacation when their life turns upside down, The gang G3 stand corruption, and every single downtrodden elements that holds the country back, result they become indispensable and a driving force with media help from Zarine..Close encounters with the PM didn't go that well with me though I would love to see something like that in future...

Taneja's love for the country is evident throughout the book, his dream and aspiration for the country peeps through every dialogue, well then who doesn't wish to see the country in the forefront..Indian Rupee is far low when compared to Kuwait dinar yet it always hit the news when the value of US dollar picks up against Indian rupee , that is the effect of super power, even that is taken into consideration in the story where Indian rupee rises above US dollar.Vikram one of the protagonists is Indian ambassador to US and his press conference though bit overdone is definitely optimistic...Every character stands apart from each other with their own ideologies and thoughts yet they bond together with a common motto and Vikram was my personal favorite..G4's actions though believable and practical they seemed to be too good with no shades of grey...The book has a healthy mix of friendship, love, family values, fun, inspirations..Too often Taneja refers to the gang as G4 or G3 that made me feel that they weren't people, but some robot being referred to...

Today though the generation is fed up with the corruption and social malady they lack the proper direction to fight for, many would prefer to open face book and press the like button rather go out there and fight for it ..Though time isn't far when there would be a time when all that Taneja has dreamed would come true..

The book has a beautiful theme that emphasis on the importance of youth power in nation building..Taneja has weaved in together wonderful instants that makes the reader smile and join hands with the endevour, still it didn't let me jump all about it...Language is simple, narrative appealing it wasn't alluring enough for a five star for me..yet I would recommend this book to every youth for Taneja's sheer gracious step to bring together a tale that has style and substance..

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Ten Shades of Life edited by Nethra .A

Title: Ten shades of life
Author: various authors edited by Nethra.A
Publisher: Mahaveer Publication
Page: 240
Price: Rs 139
ISBN: 9789350880418
Genre: Fiction/Short stories
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Editor
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Nethra has worked her way to bring together ten stories of different genre into one book...For that reason this anthology stays different and an enjoyable read..Though I started systematically after first story, I chose the story randomly..

The Incarnadines by Miss Cheyenne Mitchell: Teenager Liane is a lonely girl, she has no friends and is ignored by her alcoholic parents..She is an expert living a life of being invisible to everyone around..Deeply disturbed by her abusive parents her life starts to change, when Dinga Mason the class topper befriends her, she introduces the subject of Incarnadines witchcraft and so on.. Slowly she discovers lot of secrets about them and surprisingly many family links that changes her life and her mother's forever..The book started well for me with an emotionally deprived girl in the story the story went a step ahead when the secret of Incarnadines started unfolding, but thereafter I lost it,..Mitchell somehow couldn't pull off well after that for me...Still an enjoyable one,I felt Mitchell could have done it better...

Red and Gold by Monika Pant: The story brings alive the true flavor of Indian spices with all its grandeur from the by gone days...Set in 18th century Lucknow it is a story of  Love struck couple Kishan and Shagufta ..The rich Muslim culture and the inter religious battle a love struck couple from different religion and socio-economic background status face..In spite of  a dash of gloom with pensive aura, the love carries a spark ...Can they unite in the name of love for the years to come as a family..Read to find out..Pant has painted the wonderful period of history every beautifully..

Harry's Bluff by Dr.Roshan Radhakrishnan: This was my personal favorite with its racy pace and assailant's assignment gone haywire, worse the group trying hard to put things on track...Radhakrishnan has incorporated every element to make the suspense thriller a total hit ..The story also tells how a person carry their own burden of cross which they live...I thoroughly enjoyed it and kudos to Nethra to have included this one in the collection..

Something Like That by Shankar Raman A: This is a kind of story that we could come across anytime around our working space.An elderly Mr. V and Chetan are the examples of people we stumble upon any day..How some people very cunningly take advantage of other's weakness and make a dig at them at every possible moment...I loved the end where the hunter becomes the bait...Raman's writing is simple and very enjoyable..If you expect it to humor you it might disappoint you but works well on satire..

Weekend in The Country by Bruce Memblatt: In the beautiful English land on a wonderful weekend when two friends go camping, you expect fun and happiness but murder and betrayal lingers in the air..It is a horror story that really didn't work for me.. Nevertheless a good read..

A Nootropric Eggress by Karthik. L: A very good attempt on the extra terrestrial story..Rohit the extra brilliant curious brain that been working right from his childhood with n number or things..He is even selected to pursue his higher education in exchange program and that is when his encounter with the E.T happens..With his narrow escape and his subsequent behavior makes up an entertaining read...

The secret of Ahiraah by Reshmy Pillai: This is an historic fiction, I loved the way the story unfolded.Reading this novel one gets a gist on the general history of India too..The Oswals',  Seths'  all stay bright throughout the story and this was one among my personal favorite, many Urdu, Hindi, and old style of Indian language has added to authenticity of the era..

Where did you go by Deepa Duraisamy:This one is a contemporary story with a old prevalent society stigma attached to having a baby boy..The pressure on the couple especially the daughter-in law is too much...The pressure even make people to travel along the track of destruction, breaking relationship..This story explores one instance with suspense and drama..Motherly love, care and parental care is effectively delivered...

Barren Harvest by Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat: Again a genre which is not the kind for me..It has the metaphysical elements with deep logical thoughts in them..Reaching out to reach with the likes of authors  like H.G Wells..

A Good day to die by Rahul Biswas: This is the highly dramatic story among the book were humane  fallacy that complicates life.The three character bring alive everyday turmoil of  fire fighters..Their friendship, their hatred mixes to form a highly striking story..The end I felt it to be too dramatic..Biswas has done justice in portraying the working class in Mumbai city with their naive language and style well..

The book sums up for an easy breezy read creating different mood, since all ten stories belong to different genre one may not enjoy all stories alike still a read worth it...This would be a treat to a reader who loves every kind of genre..Nethra has an impressive profile do go through them..

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review Poor folk by Fyodor Dostoevesky

Title: Poor Folk
Author: Fyodor Dostoevesky
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Online

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Buy Poor folk from

Review (from the back cover)
Written in the form of letters, it recounts a blossoming romance amid St. Petersburg's slums between a middle-aged writer and a much younger seamstress. Compact and easy to read, it represents an excellent introduction to Dostoyevsky's work.

As the name suggests the story revolves round people ridden with poverty..The two protagonist of the novel Makar Dievushkin a clerk and Barbara Dobroselova a seamstress are poor and Makar is deeply in love with Barbara ..The story spans for a period of eight months through exchange of letters between Makar and his distant relative and orphaned Varvara who is sick and is flirting between the line of prostitution and a life of dignity...Coming back to our main story, Barbara never confesses her love for him nor she encourages the generous gifts Makar bestows upon her with whatever he has and at times depriving himself of his basic needs, yet she never refuses him entirely... A love which is destined to doom and you know  what to expect in the end , yet you keep on reading...Unlike Dostoevesky's other works like Crime and Punishment, Brother K and The notes from the underground this story is pretty simple and the characters do not carry the depth of grey that are usually predominant in his other books...The letters in spite of its somber mood is a clear depiction of people who crave for love,care and affection and a self loathing for their life of ruin ... Makar consistently tries to win Barbara's hand even when he knows deep inside that he would eventually lose his side..Barbara goes on to marry Monsieur Bwikov whom she has no particular affection to, still takes such a decision to drift herself away from poverty..Makar even knowing Barbara's decision asks her to right back may be for one last time...Makar's fate

Misery of a poor man is portrayed in a way that earns compassion from the reader than that of sympathy.. Readers get a feeling that they are quite happy about their tattered state...Apart from the state of people and their behavioral psychology,  Dostoevesky also explores the history of Russia with a dash of melancholy and its fall to disgrace... Life of lower middle class society  and their battle to stay afloat leaves us bit disturbed at times..There are also reference excerpts from other authors and writers were Dostoevesky tries to make his opinion upon them...This is a short novel where you get a peek on to the lives of  poor, down trodden, impoverished mass of people of the gone by era...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: The Nun by Denis Diderot

Title: The Nun
Author: Denis Diderot
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Price: Rs 743
Page: 189
ISBN: 9780199555249
Genre: Fiction/ Classic
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Borrowed
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Buy The Nun from

Diderot's The Nun (La Religieuse) is the seemingly true story of a young girl forced by her parents to enter a convent and take holy orders. A novel mingling mysticism, madness, sadistic cruelty and nascent sexuality, it gives a scathing insight into the effects of forced vocations and the unnatural life of the convent. This new translation includes Diderot's all-important prefatory material.

Set during 18th century France, the story is about Suzanne who is forced to become a nun by her parents..Growing up unloved, as she is born to her mother by a secret lover...Suzanne though dares to refuse when asked by the priest at the alter on the day of sacred vows, but then fates has it hard on her..Her parents die and she has no where to turn to..At the nunnery she is subjected to n number of agony both mental and physical..Taunt and harassment becomes an everyday event as her dark days unfolds.. The story moves on as is acquainted with different personalities, some good, some sweet, some kind to wicked to shrewd finally she is molested at the hand of a lesbian...At some point I expected Suzanne to run away from all this distress for good...One really feels bad for Suzanne, who is put in the convent as a plot to get rid of her from her parent's lives..Taking order against her wish made her to retaliate it that is evident through actions ...Her life in the second convent seemed all the worse where she encounters the rest of the horror , she is thrown into a cell, she is stolen and she is always a victim all the time...

The story shows a very different perspective to the life of nuns..It makes a point that no matter how pious certain things are if it were forced upon you things would turn pretty ugly...The book must have created real havoc for dealing with homosexuality back in 18th century that directed against the catholic church..The book was published after Diderot's death and believed to be a true story of nun in someway..At many instances the book carries an air of satire humor and you can't help but laugh too...Suzanne's prayer to god after being caught going against her sacred vows was in the list...The plot speeds away through the melancholy  to misery ..The first person narration makes it  even more earnest as we see things through Suzanne's head as she goes about a life that she never intended to live..At times the events and her torture seemed sadistic too..

The description of the homosexuality amazed me as it were written some two hundred years ago and I couldn't help but wonder if Diderot had got carried away bit too much at times...But the best part is Diderot doesn't attack religion and he stays away from going against God..On the other hand Diderot is nailing down hypocrites who do live a double lives in the name of living a pious life as the messenger of god..The book is an interesting read for unveiling events that  go behind the walls of convent...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer..It's a chance to share the news...A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received  and share news about what it is coming up on the blog  for the week ahead.

Its been a while that I have participated in Sunday post..Monsoon is back and I'm enjoying every minute of rain and bliss of it...I had a great week in terms of books and blogging..Have a great ahead..

And here are the post the blog saw

Book Review:
The beauty myth by Naomi Wolf
The female eunuch by Germaine Greer
Smart phones dumb people by Parthejeet Sarma

Short Story
The Crocodile /The dream of a ridiculous man by Foyodor Dostoevesky!!!

Short story: The Crocodile/ The dream of a ridiculous man by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Title:The crocodile/The dream of a ridiculous man
Author:Fyodor Dostoevsky
Rating: 5/5 nd 4/5
Genre: Parody

I read two short stories by one of my favorite authors Fyodor Dostoevsky.I chose  The crocodile and  The dream of a ridiculous man..First one I chose because of the story line that really didn't sound like Dostoevsky, the later I chose for its title..

The Crocodile 
The story really came as a surprise for me in the beginning..It is about Ivan Matveich ( I have always had problem with getting the names right, I'm not even sure if i'm spelling them right till the end) who is swallowed by a crocodile live at a public exhibition in St. Petersburg..He teases his way to get to this trap...He is accompanied by his wife Elena Ivanovna and a friend Semyon Semyonitch to the exhibition..The crocodile is being is  touring all over the country run by a German couple...Ivan's wife make an appeal to the couple to cut the crocodile to rescue her husband while the couple demand a ransom in return...Elena is unable to make all that money while Ivan gets accustomed to his new environment comfortably , he even starts enjoying the attention he gathers by his new found place of life...On the contrary Elena begins to appreciate her freedom and life without Ivan...

Like I had mentioned earlier,  I was quite taken aback by the plot initially, but then it dawned to me that it was a parody..Through Ivan's situation Dostyovaesky points at various social issues...The story is amazingly engaging, and very much enjoyable with its strange story-line and pace..Only a master story teller like Dostoevsky can put a strong and powerful message wrapped in a soft touch...He makes dig at the writers, newspaper and every socially responsible authorities who publicize the man inside a crocodile.. I would say it can come under the contemporary writing with a classic feel...The humour and wit are just perfect for a wonderful reading  that makes you smile and think at the same time...
Loved this one and I would recommend to anyone who likes Russian writers and classic short stories..

The dream of a ridiculous man
The story is about a man who is questioning and debating upon his existence and life..I wouldn't that he is depressed  but he is totally taken away by disturbing thoughts that takes a plunge  to commit suicide..On his way he meets a gal in total tatters who comes for help for her dying mother..In spite of being aware of the complete state he shoos her away but then  is filled with remorse later with himself .. This instinct of self loath doesn't let him shoot himself and he  eventually falls asleep..The whole story is about the dream there after...A fantasy world something like an identical earth inhabited by  very innocent people contrary to people around him..They are kind and love without any expectations, they are not overcome by jealousy or anger yet.. There he learns what is love and what is it to be loved , yet he depreciate the standard of living by injecting practicality, dividing them in the name of self improvement and degrades them by vengeful ego and concepts of jealousy and intolerance...The paradise transforms into a wrathful hell with all filthy semblance... But he wakes up as a transformed man for good..

The story is on a philosophical note, on man and his behavior that has to be in check time and again for a balanced character and life...He points out how a self centered man destroys a whole group without actually doing vile things  to others around them...The right perception for life and social responsibility is the main theme of the story...I loved the theme and the inspiration it surrounds the reader with...This again will make up for  a wonderful read if you are looking for a meaningful short story...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: The beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Title:The beauty Myth
Author: Naomi Wolf
Publisher: Vintage books
Pages: 348
Price: Rs 405
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal
Buy The beauty myth from
Buy The beauty myth from

Summary:(from the back cover)
In the struggle for women's equality, there is one subject still shrouded in silence - women's compulsive pursuit of beauty. The myth of female beauty challenges every woman, every day of her life. The author exposes the tyranny of the beauty myth through the ages and its oppressive function today, in the home and at work, in literature and the media, in relationships between men and women, between women and women. With examples, she confronts the beauty industry and its advertising and uncovers the reasons why women are consumed by this destructive obsession

This book falls into the third wave of feminism..The female Eunuch reminded me of this one by Wolf and  its been there in my folder for sometime now..The book is about  beauty myth that women fall prey to, the false believes and impression that is been around the world all over the century... Wolf explores the extend of women running fast, inviting pain to attain the flawless face and imprint the airbrush touched images of the celebrities....Seriously there would be very few women who wouldn't bear pain at least for the sake of  wonderful eyebrow or to get rid of those white black heads..Though there were certain instincts that pricked me for the facts she has put forth openly I would  only wish if the book to sustain the tempo throughout...The chapters "culture" and "sex" appealed to me the most...According to her it all starts with the  pre-conceived notion on beauty that goes with the fair skin tone , perfect waistline, fuller lips, longer legs and so on and failing to achieve leads to depression in many..Though it is important to be healthy, what happens as a result of diet plans are often unhealthy too much of wrong type of exercises without considering a person's physique, capacity  leads to extortion  mounting on mental agony...

This book is a result of years of research and countless interviews by Wolf..Though she is onto feminist mode, certain figures can slap you on face...In spite of all this, to me the reading went slow still it was all worth it...Woman want to change everything that nature has bestowed upon her, right from her hair color to texture to size of breast and bust, color of eye, even to the extend to go under the knife in the name of cosmetic surgery to get those perfect size of nose,chin, lips, jaw ,etc etc..Though some do end up looking better but many others end up looking just a shadow of their older selves for which we have names of celebrities to add to the list..I have always felt that people are bit harsh towards the to so called perfect image of a celebrity in a show bizz where they are always expected to look in shape no matter of their physical state be it pregnancy or any other ailment failing which, media creates a hype going far on creating a collage of their photos that has their older self with that of current state, based on which they are thrashed severely for not looking in shape while lucky men are not treated in the same light, but why is that so??.

 I have many wonderful women around me who are battling their way with their self image and the image, the  beauty industry is trying to commercialize...To be honest I too have my moments though off late I have learnt my to clearly distinct between beauty, health, and self image..For me beauty is not just the thing that one can see in mirror but something that carries more shades and meaning on how one feels about oneself...

Wolf covers violence , sex, culture parallel to beauty and how the problems are often interconnected to women..She accuses the advertising companies, the corporate world  and media who cast a kind of image that often creates insecurity in the mind of women who don't fit into the terms the industry is trying to project... Selling their product at the expense of stakeholders who do things in vain...She explains how the concept of beauty is often misinterpreted giving a whole new wrong dimension to it...

The problem is that these images of celebrity images are unattainable for many as those image are a collective effort a group of people who are working towards the looks of this particular person, while this does not hold good for a normal girl who tries hard to to attain her so called size zero image failing which leads to a lower self esteem..

Only problem I had with this book was the opinions which were quite generalized..Not every woman feels the same way towards beauty and looks so it would have been great had she given the benefit of doubt to that creamy layer...Wolf  takes are bit harsh upon certain religious projections which could spoil  the mood of reading..

In spite all these problems the book does paints a clear picture on the perception of beauty and the danger it poses on women who push themselves to much to look beautiful...In spite of being a social critic she has exaggerated and generalized many beauty myth but then it could have been the case back  in 20 years..But the funniest part is many women want to look like an image of a celebrity who don't look anything like the image that the magazine carry.. That being said, when and how  can we really break free from all these and begin to be proud of  looks, nature has blessed  with!!! Well that is another topic of discussion entirely...
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