Book Review: Tides Don’t Cross

Book: Tides Don’t Cross
Author: Simar Malhotra
Publishers: Rupa Publications
Genre: Fiction

Tides Don't Cross

Tides Don’t Cross

Occasionally you come across characters in stories that seem like you know that person. They seem believable and sometimes they resonate with your own self. Tides Don’t Cross falls in that category where the two sisters Meera and Rukmini seem like real people.

It has been a while since I read a love story. Some which I did read did not much click with my liking though those were not bad stories.

Mrinalini and Rukmini, the two sisters are as different as chalk and cheese. Mrinalini, the docile one heeds everything her overbearing mother commands and decides for her while Rukmini is the rebel. Mrinalini or Meera even agrees to marry someone on her mother’s insistence quashing a budding romance with her colleague in her heart. She adjusts her life according to the man she marries and gradually loses all her individuality. No one including her husband tries to gauge her heart, her aspirations, her choices…

Rukmini on other hand does everything which annoys their mother. She questions everything and is a hot headed person who doesn’t cow down to anything she doesn’t believe in. She falls in love with a Muslim boy, Ayan, an ace swimmer, in Paris. The bliss lasts as long as the separate ambitions do not clash. But the pain of separation and love lasts in a corner of her heart.

Ayan, a national team aspirant  finds his dreams quashed due to a shoulder injury. A perfect gentleman, he contemplates making good use of his knowledge and give back to society.

Few years down the line, Meera suddenly finds herself a widow and her struggles with bringing up her son, take her to a new house. The shy girl gradually opens up to the friendly neighbor and swimming coach of her son. She comes to rely on him and starts enjoying his company. Little by little her lost confidence and desire to live takes shape again.

The story weaves the lives of Meera, Rukmini and Ayan through various events. No where however there is slackening in the narrative. Each character is well crafted and plays important role in the story. The story flows so naturally that I did not want to put it down and enjoyed reading it late in night.

The twists in the story will keep the readers engaged no doubt. The story ends logically and with no unnecessary drama.

A well written book that I liked quite a lot.

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Book Review: Busting Cliches

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Book: Busting Cliches
Author: Mahevash Shaikh
Genre: Self Help
Publication: APK Publishers
Busting Cliches

Busting Cliches

Everyday most of us refer to some situation with oft used phrases. Most times we believe we have used it in the correct sense…it gives us a sense of know-all and we gloat on our knowledge of English language and our ability to describe a certain situation.

But what if I tell you that most of the very commonly used cliches are usually little off the mark of what they actually mean?

Here is a young author Mahevash Shaikh with her debut handbook who busts the misunderstood versions of twenty such phrases.

The size and shape of book itself busts the preconceived notion of a book…at least it broke my preconceived idea of a book. Honestly when the book arrived I was little miffed because it had a look of a pocket book or a cook-book. But later as I read through, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the size was purposely meant to break that cliche?

Each phrase mentioned in the book has its originally intended meaning, the misunderstood version, reference of that phrase in popular songs, a caricature and byte size explanation of what to make of it. There are snippets of comments and quotes by some popular names of the world for each phrase.

The book opens withLook Before You Leap as the first cliche to be busted. It seems that that the common understanding of this phrase is to be cautious all the time. However what it really implies is that before we take a decision, we must weigh all the pros and cons. Like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook says “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Another phrase that left me thinking was One good turn deserves another’. Most time we expect reciprocation of a good gesture or act and feel miffed and disappointed if that doesn’t happen. And here is what the basic fault lies in understanding this phrase. The real meaning of the phrase is the other way round. It implies that when someone does a favor, we must return it with graciousness when the need arises. But pinning hopes on return of favor takes away the meaning of generosity. What the educator and leadership consultant says is absolutely true: “If expecting something in return is your reason for giving, you really are not giving! If you receive something in returnfor your gift, that is a bonus and not repayment of a debt.” 

There are more such every day phrases in the book which have been construed in different context than they were supposed to. The book ends on a positive note emphasizing how our thoughts are influenced by what we think and choose to believe.  A very different book from what I usually read, this one is a light-hearted nudge without being too much preachy.


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Book Review: Men And Dreams In Dhauladhar

Book: Men And Dreams In The Dhauladhar
Author: Kochery C Shibu
Genre: Fiction
Publication: Niyogi books

Men and dreams: Book review

I am back with new book review. It has been some time since I last read and reviewed a book. But I was on self-imposed sabbatical as I couldn’t find interesting books to read!

Men and Dreams seemed interesting from the blurb on the back cover.

The story is about three people very different to each other who end up at a dam construction project site high up in the Himalayas, more precisely the Dhauladhar Range. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala is running away from warring communities who are baying for his blood in revenge. He leaves his family and goes in hiding as a supervisor on the dam site. Rekha is a trained and accomplished Kathak dancer who gives up her medical profession to follow her passion of dance. She dreams of finding a man who would spark love and longing in her. On a trip to Vaishnodevi temple in kashmir her group is attacked by a group of terrorists. One of the terrrorists ends up instead protecting her from harm’s way. Khusru, is from a small village Deran in Himalayas who falls in wrong hands and ends up being trained as a terrorist and is supposed to help execute the plan of blowing up the dam site. Khusru despite becoming a terrorist despises hurting women. He foils the plan of other terrorist in the group by saving Rekha from their clutches and misguiding them leading to their capture by army. Khusru and the girl fall in a wild passionate love and escape to dam site to stay in hiding.

The story goes on to describe the life of the three along with all men and women at the construction site. While the challenges of the life in hills with changing weather, the infighting between laborers, the changing lifestyle of locals make the backdrop of the story, the story revolves around the three people; their fears, aspirations, interactions and their dreams of a brighter tomorrow. And while the men and women at the construction site strive to achieve their dreams the majestic Dhauladhar watches over the twists in tale.

The story though well conceived and written, dwells too much, for my comfort, on technical side of dam construction. I for one did not want to read so much about ‘fore bay’ or ‘gulle’ etc.

The background of each character was interesting though and built up the story of how they all reached at same destination. I would have liked to read their interaction more. The end seemed little abrupt as everything happens suddenly. The part about intelligence agency tracking the movement of terrorist is too short and doesn’t build up the anticipation enough.

The story ends in interesting way. While some dreams are crushed but some are met and for those characters of the story all ends well.

In all, story doesn’t disappoint but it could have been shorter. I liked the idea of the story but skipped some part when it became a little too much about the construction and less about people.

Read and decide for yourself.

Also read on Amazon and GoodReads .

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खतों के सिलसिले


वो दिन भी क्या खूब हुआ करते थे
खतों में दोस्तों से रूबरू हुआ करते थे
खत भी हमारे अजीब ही होते थे
लड़कपन के ऊलजलूल ख्वाबों से सजते थे
यूँ ही हंसा जाते थे, तमाम बातें कह जाते थे
कभी शिकायतें कर जाते तो
कभी शेखी बघारने का तरीका तो
कभी छुट्टियों में मिलने की तरकीब बन जाते थे
महीने भर की कहानी सुना जाते थे तो
सालगिरह पर तमाम बधाई दे जाते थे
वो बंद लिफाफे बेक़रार कर जाते थे
अब सब अपनी उलझनों में मशगूल हैं
खतों के सिलसिले लगते फ़िज़ूल हैं
अब डाकिये दस्तक देते नहीं
चिट्ठियों के पुलिंदे लाते नहीं
अब बातें पुरानी हो जाती हैं
उन्हें बांटने की बेसब्री हम दिखते नहीं
अब हम मिलने  के मंसूबे बनाते नहीं
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वो मेरा भगवान नहीं 

वो मेरा भगवान नहीं 
जो नन्ही कली का कुचलना 
यूँ ही गुमसुम देखता है 
वो मेरा भगवान् नहीं 
जो बीभत्स दुःकर्मियों  
यूँ ही हाथ बांधे रक्षा करता है 
वो मेरा भगवान नहीं 
यूँ ही जो अधर्म में आँखे मूंदे सोता है 
कैसा इश्वर है 
जो खोखले नारों में जीता है?
जो बेमतलब प्रथाओं में रमता है?
जो निरीह कन्या की पुकार 
को नहीं सुनता है? 
कहाँ है वो इश्वर 
अधर्म मिटाने को जिसने 
हर युग में जन्म लेने 
का किया था प्रण 
कहाँ है वो इश्वर 
जिसने अत्याचार से रक्षा 
का दिया था वचन?
ऐसा अँधा बहरा गूंगा और अपाहिज 
वो मेरा भगवान् नहीं
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Book Review: The Jasmine Bloom

Book: The Jasmine Bloom

Author: Rajat Narula

Genre: Fiction

Publication: Srishti Publishers

I need to apologize for finishing the book in two days flat but not putting up the review sooner.

No! I did not skip pages or skimmed through. Yes! If the first few pages of the book hold my interest, I can finish reading in one sitting.

There, I said it! Yes I liked the story.

The cover of ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ by Rajat Narula itself gives a summery  vibe. Sameer Chaddha, a middle-aged corporate guy who is stagnating in his career and hence unhappy and withdrawn all the time seems to be like some people I know….married for almost two decades, with teenager kids and unsatisfied with career graph. But the similarity ends just there…and I am glad it does.

Sameer Chaddha and his wife Kavita seem to be communicating less and less over the years with both retreating into a shell. His interaction with his teenage daughter is counterproductive leaving him more frustrated. The physical intimacy between the husband and wife is almost nil.

At such time in his life, Sameer finds himself falling headlong in a whirlwind  affair with his colleague Ritu who also is dealing with an abusive husband and an autistic child. As the two give in to their lust ignoring and ruining the fabric of their respective families, certain events bring their dream world crashing to reality.

The story however is not with the regular obvious end where each character realizes the folly and starts afresh with their spouses and all ends well. There is a twist….the characters do recollect the threads and reconcile with the changed circumstances and try finding semblance and happiness. They try building bridges and mend broken ties but with new perspective.

Am not an advocate of finding love outside marriage just because one of the partner is bored or needs some change in life. Am more of a loyal and ‘yours forever’ kind of person. So when I said I liked the story, it wasn’t to glamorize infidelity. The good thing about the story is its pace and structure. There is no unnecessary drag in the story.

The circumstances in the story that lead to torrid affair are though very clichéd and convenient yet the story reads well. The angst of a teenager is captured well. That the wife always knows when the husband is cheating is also woven in the story.

However I would like to read someday a story without these excuses of midlife crisis or boredom or abusive husband. A story bold enough to scream “I wanted this, so I cheated and I have no regrets”. Lets see how people react…

Till that kind of story gets written, we can read ones which try to reason an affair. The book is good read.

Also read on Amazon and  Goodreads

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कुछ लम्हे ख़ास होते हैं

कुछ लम्हे ख़ास होते हैं
यूँ ही दस्तक दे, छन से बिखर जाते हैं
सवाल खड़े कर जाते हैं…
वह पल पहले आता तो?
क्या यूँ ही गुदगुदा जाता?
या तब भी ओझल हो जाता ?
वक्त तब क्या करवट लेता?
रुला जाता या नशा चढ़ा जाता?
क्या बरसों की धूल से मैला हो जाता?
या अब सा नया ही रहता?
या इश्क़ बन जाता?
कि कुछ घडी का खेल?
खैर वक्त किसने बाँचा है…..
इन छोटे छोटे लम्हों को पिरो लो
तो दिल का एक कोना
हरा हो जाता है…
ऐसे लम्हों का इन्तजार रह जाता है

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