The Silent Breeze

Be quiet for a while. Listen.

Category: Reviews

Review of PG Bhaskar’s ‘Corporate Carnival: Jack is Back’

Use Grammarly‘s grammar check because being a non-conformist is not the solution to everything.”

 

Bhaskar’s latest offering ‘Corporate Carnival: Jack is Back’ is a breezy and light-hearted read that offers the readers a peek into the roller-coaster world of the banking industry. The book follows Jack, the protagonist, in his quest for a safe and happy future. Fate, however, had other plans as the long grubby hands of the economic recession caught on to him and he was forced to leave his job. The story ricochets into turbulent waters as Jack and his friend, Kitch, take up jobs with another multinational bank, hoping that this was the break that they were looking for. Soon after, the story takes on a frenetic frenzy as Jack, Kitch and the other colleagues in their department start fishing around for prospective clients. As readers, we experience the antics of Jack’s customers and his experiences with them which range from a nerve-wracking and hilarious instant quiz on football to getting dangerously sandwiched between the two wives of a client. As if this was not enough, more hilarious situations are generously interspersed in between the winding lanes of the main storyline. This involves the mad dash to Kitch’s house in Chennai which results in a harrowing experience for Harry, a colleague, to Jack ‘heroically’ saving Gali, Kitch’s wife, from the clutches of a fictional ghost.

Although the book is laden with mishaps and hilarious and embarrassing encounters of every kind, the reader is also exposed to the underbelly of the banking world where games are played and moves are made by minions and chairpersons alike. Thanks to the sheer determination and efficiency of his colleagues, Jack’s department in the bank starts to gather more clout and, as a result, ends up drawing a lot of negative attention. Eventually, there is a reshuffling at the top of the ladder which, in a sad turn of events, spells doom for Jack’s department and his colleagues. This, in effect, is a realistic reflection of the paradoxical machinations in most privatized corporations where direct reward for hard work goes hand in hand with direct reward for cunning political manouevres. The undercurrents of the grim reality are effectively shielded by the hilarity of most of the events that surround the protagonist. Eventually, fed up with the negativity of the newly restructured organization, Jack and his colleagues decide to start a small venture of their own.

The book, therefore, is a celebration of the triumph of hope over loss. In the first instance, Jack loses his job due to the recession. However, he comes back into the game with a blast as he is asked to rejoin the industry with a swanky new corporation. Soon after, the true nature of the corporation comes to the fore and Jack is left reassessing his future once again. The book ends on a positive note where Jack and his colleagues start a new chapter by taking control of their own lives by moulding from scratch a future for themselves. The book, therefore, is an eclectic collection of a wide variety of humour concerning different geographies, people and incidents and the daily realistic struggles in the swanky corridors of the corporate universe. The humour serves to garnish and temper down the negative machinations into a digestible and entertaining read while the realistic windows into Jack’s tumultuous job life serves to keep the reader grounded and not exalt in the heavenly mirage overflowing with generous doses of humour. All in all, although the narrative is a light-hearted breezy one and the book, in itself, is a quick read, the author has done a modest job in bringing the complex machinations of corporate minds to the fore.

 

https://i1.wp.com/iyatingupta.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/14fr_book3_jpg_1206419g.jpg

Advertisements

Tracing the contours of memory

“Use Grammarly’s grammar check because that will help you gain salvation! *insert angels playing harps in the background*.”

When a colourful topographical map is sketched using poetry, varied images and the seductive power of memories, one can simply marvel at the creation and take in the undulating contours that dot the landscape. One does not simply read such a creation but travels along the very bends and ridges and highs and lows that the map brings to the fore. Geography Of Tongues by Shikha Malaviya recreates such an experience as the reader travels over miles before zooming back to the point of origin and then jumps headlong into the depths of memories of the past only to emerge in some distant region. The author herself has resided on different continents and experienced starkly different types of environments all throughout her life and this particular factor contributed to a unique atmosphere and theme as far as the poetry in the book is concerned.

The poems travel from fond vivid memories of her childhood right to the highlighting of social issues and candid bursts of sensuous imagery. India and the nuances of its various avatars coupled with permanent photographs fondly ingrained in her mind have given rise to poems that wonderfully depict various themes which vary from the idea of being a Hindu to the emotions that rise when one’s own motherland beckons one to come back to its shores. The book opens with reminiscences of the past and of loved ones in the family – the memories of her grandmother, fond recollections of the time when her ears were pierced followed by her efforts in learning the basics of the language. The poet then moves on to sculpt an image of her grandfather from scattered memories that ranged from his love affair with poetry to her regret in not having solved the mystery behind his magic tricks. This is followed up by a poignant account of the degree of yearning her father had for the beautifully picturesque and peaceful memories of his tryst with the mountains of his youth. While the reader travels sedately over boundaries and memories, there come times when sheer fervour and a natural pride in the author’s identity brings forth poems like Where I Come From which steadfastly and magnificently declares

“My country is
Every manifestation
Between a fiery red chilli pepper
And your tongue
A peacock dancing against the setting sun”

The book also has its fair share of colourful descriptions through poems like Mad About Mangoes, which glorifies and vividly describes the varied textures and methods of enjoying the simple wonder that a mango is capable of being, and Blessed By The Banyan which beautifully brings forth the mystic charm that has wrapped itself around the much-celebrated holy tree. Humour is also to be found in generous doses as little nuggets of witty wordplay blend in effortlessly here and there. Sometimes, humour takes precedence in poems like This Just In which is a witty take on a fictional disease characterized by an overdose of multiple accents in the victim. At the end of the map, the book meanders off into a rhythmic reminiscence of the days spent on foreign shores and how her mutated identity resulted in a silent struggle with her environment. Titled Silver Bangles, the poem ends with a reversal of her experiences when she reconnects with her motherland.

The book, in itself, is a yearning for the true definition of identity, a constant search traced through the contours of the tongue and boundaries that move in and out of lives interspersed with fond and candid memories and vivid colours of different lands, both foreign and home. While the author has brought to life sensual, sarcastic, concerned, comparative, proud and a host of other moods while sculpting such wonderful imagery, one cannot help but lose oneself in the sea of memories, the sensual moments, the quintessential Indian pictures, the travelling across boundaries and the topping of humour. Pico Iyer’s famous TED talk on “Where is home?” is perhaps the best supplement to Shikha’s debut book of verses. Iyer’s comment, “My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me.”, resonates with the anecdotes in the book that are essentially broken images and ideas of new-found, mutated, lost and re-discovered identities, all bursting out from the inner reaches of the author’s experiences. Geography of Tongues is like the discovery of torn and tattered pieces of a map languishing in a long-forgotten corner of the basement. Once it is accidentally discovered, the torn pieces are put together and an attempt is made to discover a coherent path for the mind to travel on and to attempt and discover its true identity.

Review of Manish Gupta’s “English Bites!”

Words are the building blocks of the realm of languages. They are little fairies born from varied forms of stardust that mate magically with a singular purpose of creating the magical intangible universe of ordered sounds that envelop us, lowly creatures, and provide for us a bridge which we tiptoe or gallop or dance or simply walk over. This bridge connects two souls, two islands, two lonely beings and helps them to smile and understand each other. Words are the air we breathe through our mouths. Sometimes, words are exhaled in unpredictable bursts that are momentary and compulsive desires to express and, therefore, extend our souls and thoughts with an omnidirectional aim of connecting, on the physical, emotional and metaphysical level, with another soul. The connection is the euphoric pinnacle of the euphonic saga that is called language.

Manish Gupta’s “English Bites!” is a book that embraces words and gives them the royal treatment that they so rightly deserve. The book is filled with interesting words that, metaphorically speaking, pop out from holes underneath the pages. They are strewn all over the book in generous doses and, therefore, help to improve the vocabulary of the reader. To facilitate learning, the meaning of the word is lucidly explained along with examples that help to assist the reader in understanding the usage of the words. Footnotes have been used liberally and they serve to enlighten the reader as he courses through words flowing through the veins of the pages. On quite a few occasions, the author has provided anecdotes and stories which have caused the creation and/or the current pronunciation of certain words. These stories coupled with his experiences in life help to add a lot of humour to the text. Each chapter is a slice from the author’s life. Humorous, candid and forthcoming, these tales about his past help in the learning experience as the reader treads along two parallel paths simultaneously, one being the stories and the anecdotes and the other being new juicy words that are marked off in bold. Light, lilting and funny, the book does not tread into mundane waters and, more importantly, it does not tend to preach. It prances along happily and occasionally throws across a wonderfully delicious word that the reader can savour at his own pace.

However, the pace of the narrative is undulating and, therefore, does not flow along harmoniously. Even though that could be attributed to the fact that the book is primarily an exercise in knowledge rather than fiction, the stories and the contexts in each chapter are quite widely separate from each other and, therefore, there are no connecting threads that can identify the book as a unified entity. Rather, each chapter is like a little island drifting along its own path which, therefore, tends to leave the reader swimming in uncharted territories. As a result, the multiple themes comingle with each other and appear to befuddle the aftertaste that lingers once the reader has completed reading the book. All in all, the book is filled with a wonderful array of words which are, in turn, supplemented with interesting trivia. It is a bold and unique attempt and if one is looking to enrich one’s vocabulary without immersing oneself in the drudgery of word lists and the bottomless pages of a dictionary, then this book should be a good return on investment.

My rating of the book is 7.5/10.

Review of Kulpreet Yadav’s “India Unlimited”

“India Unlimited” is a spontaneous and euphoric celebration of the Indian diaspora so much so that every story in this collection by Kulpreet Yadav feels like a characteristic dollop of colour on the palette of the Indian experience. This book is a collection of short stories which, on certain occasions, attempt to unmask, in a rather entertaining manner, the diverse mysteries of the Indian mind and life and the intersections between these two veritable entities. The reader is slowly drawn into the smell of the words as each flip of the page slowly and fluidly recreates the Indian story.

The book, in itself, can be likened to an elaborate tasting of the Indian cuisine displayed on an ivory table which spreads over the length and breadth of this culturally diverse nation. The book starts off with a sombre reminder of the negative underbelly of the nation through the innocent eyes of a young peanut-seller. This story sets the tone of the book as it paves a rough road filled with sharp bends and, in the process, taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride. The sharp bends can be felt as the reader eases into the second story which brings to light the erroneous societal stigma that has been developed with regard to the outcastes of our cities. The tool of showcasing a mere beggar as the good Samaritan has been used effectively by the author to bring to light the inherent contradiction of our definitions of good and bad. This, in effect, also goes on to showcase the complex veneer that coats the modern Indian society and the machine of urbanization as we know it. The book is dotted with characters that are champion ambassadors of the variety of people that constitute the rugged and, at the same time, compact definition of modern India. We get acquainted with the seedy underbellies of the cities as the author takes on a trip to the world of prostitutes and local gangsters. At the same time, he gives us a window into his own life by describing the Indian male’s traumatic experience in the quintessentially Indian saree shop which, in an inexplicable manner, is able to wield some form of hypnotic power on the Indian wife. In another instance, the reader is treated to a humorous nugget of a story (at the expense of the author) where the author is found to be in a highly sleepy state during an important conference. The extreme loathing for his boss and the job coupled with his propensity to fall asleep quite frequently and the befriending of an attractive lady lead to a rather embarrassing and simultaneously humorous experience for him. The author also takes us on edge-of-the-seat trips through stories like the one that describes the kidnapping of a famous personality and how the story unfolds through the actions of two young boys who run roadside tyre repair and tea shops.

The varying pace of the stories combined with the variety, both in the underlying emotions and the personality of the various characters, has resulted in a book which successfully and homogeneously represents the eclectic concoction that is better known as India. The book never fails to disappoint when it comes to the plots and the delicious dollops of entertainment help to keep the reader engaged at all moments. In short, the author has put together a wonderful collection of stories that truly stretch the boundaries of the perception of our country to unlimited and uncharted territories. In that vein, “India Unlimited” is truly a wonderful representation of the positive and undying enigma called India.

My rating of the book is 7/10.

 

Published in Book Link, India (September, 2013)

Review Of Mohsin Hamid’s “How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia”

There are self-help books and there are self-help books written by Mohsin Hamid. That, probably, is the simplest and best way to describe, in a nutshell, the twelve guidelines laid down throughout the course of the book entitled How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia. Narrated in the second-person, every chapter forewarns the reader and sets expectations in terms of how much ‘help’ one can derive from this rather helpful (insert dollops of sarcasm) self-help book. The book puts forward a set of characters that are not larger-than-life and are able to sketch together a story that reverberates with the growth story in the sub-continent plus the very real pitfalls that come as an unnecessary but added bonus.

We are introduced to the protagonist of the story, a young boy born into the typical poor family’s home situated in one of the multitude of villages strewn across the geography of this part of the world. As is the general trend, he migrates to the big city, along with many other poor migrants, in search of a new gleaming future. Soon after, the element of love enters the boy’s life through the guise of a ravishing young woman who, on the other hand, is highly ambitious and wishes to leave the confines of poverty and make her mark in the world of glamour. Our protagonist is, of course, not someone whom you can write off as just another poverty-stricken drop in the ocean of poverty. He, too, starts working his way up the social ladder by tapping into the sleazy aspect of the purified water industry. Slowly and surely, both the guy and the girl rise up the social ladder and lead starkly different lives that intersect once in a blue moon and even though they do not see much of each other, there is an undercurrent of desire that links their destinies together. The boy goes onto become highly successful while the girl, too, sees her share of success. Eventually, the self-help book makes a transition into the negative yet very real aspect of the decline of fortunes that has plagued so many ambitious and successful people since time immemorial.  With things looking bleak for them as time marched on relentlessly, they rediscover an innate need for companionship and bonding that has remained practically dormant over the majority of their lifetime.

The book, in itself, is a mirror of the volatility of the uncontrollable and rapid pace of urbanization and modernization. This disease of volatility victimizes ambitious human beings who are in search of that elusive power that can be garnered only by becoming ‘filthy rich’. In that context, the title of the book is wrapped in a shimmering veil of sarcasm and thus, it sets the tone of the narrative that is to follow. The author puts across twelve seemingly simple steps which should be followed in order to become ‘filthy rich in rising Asia’. By the time the reader reaches the last quarter of the book, the sarcastic undertone of the larger picture becomes highly prominent and causes one to understand the fatality of this rather ambitious and apparently highly promising goal of the ‘self-help’ book. By not naming any of the characters and by painting pictures that the reader has no difficulty in conceptualizing, Hamid has tried to simultaneously connect the reader’s heartbeats with the rise and fall of the fate of the colourful characters and put forward a rather successful experiment in displaying the grounded reality of the Utopian aims of the average self-help book. In essence, it is a lesson in contradiction where the self-help book itself never really realizes in advocating the goal put forward in the beginning of the book. In short, the book is unconventional, grounded, experimental and contradictory or in other words, weirdly entertaining and, might I add, a tad educational.

My rating of the book is 8/10.

 

Published in Book Link, India (August, 2013)

Published in Book Link  (August, 2013)

Review of John Green’s “The Fault In Our Stars”

Cancer is probably an example of the nadir of our helplessness in the world of diseases. John Green has, through this beautifully evocative first person narrative, given us a window into the minds and lives of teenagers afflicted with this disease and the related repercussions on friends and family. Written through the eyes of Hazel Grace, a 16 year old girl afflicted with late-stage cancer, The Fault In Our Stars is a poignant tale about an unlikely and fleeting love story mired in an underlying curtain of impending tragedy.

Hazel, a cancer patient at a tender age, meets Augustus Waters, a boy afflicted with osteosarcoma cancer, at a Support Group meeting which is aimed at helping young men and women in their battle against the disease. Before long, they get attracted to each other and eventually fall in love with each other.  The story moves through the varying contours of teenage affection coupled with the dreaded under-current of mortality. With the help of Augustus Waters, she is able to meet the author of her favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, in Netherlands. Although Peter Van Houton, the author, did not turn out to be a rather pleasant person, her bonding with Augustus became stronger during their visit to Netherlands.  Soon after, reality came hurtling down into their lives when Augustus’ condition started deteriorating slowly.  After Fate had finally caught up with him, the paintings of the characters burst out from the boundaries of the frame and reveal new shapes and forms. The reader is subjected to a beautiful and intimate exposure of Peter Van Houton, Augustus, Hazel and their parents.

The book transcends from being a mere teenage love story to a wonderfully pathetic and enlightening tale about the power of the human spirit. This power is capable of taking hold of realistic tragedy and transmogrifying it into a heady and magical tale of happiness, hope, pure love, disappointment and surprises. It provides a wonderful insight into the lives of young people afflicted with this dreaded disease. Life, for them, is like a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. The book is a silent ambassador of their crusade against this sadistic affliction. Pushing all negativity into the dark recesses of their minds, they fight a valiant battle every single day of the remainder of their lives. As a result, the story provides a rude awakening to all the fortunate healthy souls who take their life and this short existence for granted.

Although I did find the language of the narrative a bit too casual for my own liking (notwithstanding my inclination towards British English), the pace of the story is masterfully controlled as the story slows down at moments of retrospection and introspection while effortlessly galloping away during highly emotive moments. The undercurrent of cancer is steered effectively by the author as it meanders away into the distance on certain occasions only to show up at an unexpected bend. The parallel worlds of normalcy and disease flow along, sometimes crashing into each other and sometimes breaking away to carve new routes through the jungle of existence. Eventually, at the end of their journey, they collide and hurtle down into the depths of the canyon.

My rating of the book is 8/10.

faultinourstars

Review of Amruta Dongray’s “Past Present”

Smart and delectable strands of thoughts characterize Amruta Dongray’s “Past Present”.  It is, essentially, a book of poetry. On digging deeper, one might be pleasantly surprised as there is no end to the digging. Each poem has a life of it’s own, dragging the reader in different directions on all possible or imaginable planes. As one flips through the pages, the colours start oozing out slowly and coyly and after a short period of time, one is at the centre of colourful concentric circles. These circles protect as well as imprison the reader. They shield him from the stark boundaries of reality and open up new avatars where seemingly every day inconspicuous elements and thoughts are concerned. The sheer brilliance of the book is brought out, rather emphatically, through how the common man can easily relate to what she has to offer. One does not need to be a philosopher or a thinker or even a poet. Even a casual glance through one of the many short poems would reveal a Pandora’s Box of emotions, thought processes and meanings.

A wonderful example of the wings bestowed to an ordinary element is brought out in the poem “Rubber Band”. Through the poem, the poet is able to stretch the limits and delve into the very atomic existence of this seemingly inconsequential element.The rubber band is portrayed through various eyes as a tortured soul, as a flexible heart, as an accommodating persona and also the ever-patient and resilient character that snaps when circumstances cross a certain unmanageable limit. The poem “Heena” is a poem that puts on the garb of subtle romance. Here, henna, is the personification of a beautiful lover that complements the beloved’s grace. Henna, by itself, transforms, from a mere design to a magical creature that changes colour, form and definition. The poem ends with Henna bidding adieu to the beloved on a warm note, beseeching her to celebrate life in the same manner as they both had experienced.

A poem like “Waterhole” is a sarcastic take on the present day political and warlike scenarios. Our existence is saturated with images of violence, political negativity,terrorism, revolutionary elements and so on and so forth. The poet smirks at this grey and black existence by comparing this environment with that of a waterhole. The poem, dexterously, acknowledges the negativity and the bitter hatred among us and all around us. After the declaration, the reader is quickly steered towards the futility of it all by portraying that, in the end, basic human needs will force all and sundry to drink water from the same waterhole irrespective of the degree of negativity in our souls. “Double Helix” is, on the other hand, a masterful take on the paradoxical nature of certain elements. The poet talks about the DNA strand where the two strands of a DNA run alongside each other in a co-operative and serpentine fashion although they are essentially moving in opposite directions. Poems such as this reflect the growing concern about modern day social issues at a time when religious intolerance is displaying its ugly head with a frequency that is quite unnerving.

Thus, Past Present ceases to exist as a book. While on this journey, the reader experiences a hundred different souls of varied shapes, sizes and colours coming together to narrate their stories; stories that are unique, stories that speak of human nature, stories that grow wings and gallop into the shimmering moonlight and stories that veer off the road and makes the reader roll over plush meadows and jump over sharp-edged cliffs. When a book of poetry ceases to be simply pages bound to each other and when worldly boundaries cease to exist,one can safely conclude that the book is simply a mask for what is in reality an intrepid journey into an enchanted world.

My rating of the book is 8/10 .

246566_503057383084309_413906023_n

Review of Sid Bahri’s “The Homing Pigeons”

The varied contours of the element of love are brought out in a unique manner in Sid Bahri’s “The Homing Pigeons”.  The book evolves from the tale of two persons who are completely different from each other and yet develop a bond to a tale interspersed with the obstacles of social stigma which eventually play havoc with their minds and lives. The story, essentially a love story, delves into the disconnect between the past and the present. This disconnect or misalignment mutates from a seemingly inconspicuous independent factor to something that leaves an indelible mark on the characters’ lives. This is a microcosmic representation of a dilemma that the globalized Indian culture faces when its path crosses that of the older generations. The younger informed generation wants to go beyond what it construes to be mere rules and regulations of their cultures as the logical worth of these elements has degraded in their eyes. In terms of the story, the characters crave to bring to the fore the concept of love as being beyond rituals and customs. Their crusade is rudely interrupted when their elders choose to take the tried and tested path of their cultures. This interruption, in turn, causes heartbreaking decisions to be made which end up disorienting the romantic waves which, until then, flowed along harmoniously.

The inability to communicate fluidly the ravaging storm blowing in their minds was another stimulus to the growing of the vacuum between the two characters. This goes on to prove that assumptions and negative thought processes that inadvertently rise in the dark recesses of the mind end up catalyzing the erosion of the bond that had so seamlessly and purely developed in a short period of time.

Although the book primarily dwells on the making and breaking of love between the two protagonists, it directs our attention to certain blots in our history like the anti-Sikh riots. From a rosy setting, we are heralded into the murky happenings of the past and the gruesome murder of fellow Indians. An event such as this not only carves out a new rugged path in Aditya’s life, it leaves a deep cavity in his parents’ minds. Certain moments of indiscretion and hot-headedness caused disastrous cascading effects all over the nation. The ripple effects are still strong enough to be not ignored as was proven in the case of Aditya’s parents when he broached the topic of marriage with them.

The book fails to deliver when it comes to the love story in itself. Different thought processes get played out repetitively after certain intervals which causes certain lulls in the flow of the story. Apart from that, the building up of the dilemma in the two characters’ lives is very promising and when it finally reaches the peak, the final bang comes in the form of a whimper as the story ends quite abruptly with a strong utopian essence.  Although happy endings are quite welcome and leaves the reader with a positive aftertaste, the erasure of all wrongs and negativity in a perfectly harmonious fashion happens in the span of a handful of pages. From my perspective, I would have liked to relish the ending as I would like to slowly relish and explore the orgasmic delight of an exotic dessert. On the technical front, the book needs better editing.

All in all, the story is engrossing and the painting of the characters has been quite vivid along with the parallel elements of social constructs and a forgettable past.

My rating is a 6/10.

Review of Ruchir Sharma’s “Breakout Nations”

Economics has always possessed that characteristic indigestible and toxic charm which renders the study or dissection of any topic, even remotely associated with it, an intensely grey-cell-intensive expedition. This is where Ruchir Sharma’s book barges in through the gates of the mighty impenetrable bastion and brings with it a deluge of fresh air. The very first element that catches the reader’s attention is the ingenious and yet simple compartmentalization of different countries and geographical regions into independent and distinct chapters. This breaks down the seemingly convoluted concepts of economics into understandable and soluble pieces or nuggets. Each chapter delves into the economic situation of a particular country or a geographical region. The current economic situation when coupled with the past, the predictable future, political events and bigwigs, cultural mindsets and other good and not-so-good elements makes for a heady concoction. In that vein, each chapter can be likened to a short story narrated from the third person’s perspective by a master story-teller. To extend the viewpoint, the book, itself, is synonymous to a collection of short stories where each story is equally engrossing and unique.

The book is an ode to the emerging or breakout nations of the immediate future, nations that are going to stride ahead in terms of development and stability and stand out as role models for the other nations of the world. Through logic and reasoning, it scrutinizes certain economies and gives a verdict on whether that particular nation is poised to grow or fall in the coming years. Sharma starts off with the big giant, namely China. According to him, the wonderful stories revolving around China’s gargantuan growth in the future are over-estimations of the real scenario. Its growth rate is poised to slow down alongside the negative factor of an aging population. Inflation is also a major factor that will play spoilsport to the long term meteoric growth story that is projected now. Soon after the hype about China is busted, Sharma goes on to tackle the Indian conundrum. The most hard-hitting fact that comes across in the chapter concerning India is that the ‘demographic dividend’ factor is highly overrated. Besides this, poor infrastructure, corruption, policy paralysis and inflation are serious hurdles that are going to stem the apparent steaming ahead of India into the developed world.

Through the examples of Mexico and Russia, Sharma highlights the destructive effects of oligarchic nations.  The infrastructure in Brazil has degraded to such an extreme level that CEOs are compelled to use helicopters for commuting from one location to another. As for the disaster story of the Eurozone, he points out that all is not doom through the examples of Poland and the Czech Republic. He also talks about the grey area of the world aka The Fourth World which is represented by countries such as the African nations, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the others. Although the future trajectory of these nations cannot be determined in any particular manner because of the varied volatile factors governing the economic and political machineries of the nations, Sharma throws in delectable pieces of logic supported by facts which hints at the possible demise or growth of certain countries.  The two countries that stand tall by the time the reader has completed the journey called Breakout Nations are South Korea and Turkey. While South Korea is flexible and dynamic enough to churn out world-class Asian brands, Turkey is headed by one of the most charismatic leaders of our times.

The book, in itself, is a beautiful odyssey that is characterized by an in-depth knowledge about the machinations of different nations around the world. Sharma’s genius comes to light through the manner in which he has effortlessly and quite simply put forward the complex logical theories governing the economic future of the nations. This book is highly recommended for people who wish to come to terms with the current global economic situation as the book helps the reader to compare, dissect, analyze and judge economic theories and deductions in a much simpler and digestible manner.

breakout-nations_apr172

 

Published in http://www.proud2bindian.com  (April, 2013)

Review of Jerry Pinto’s “Em And The Big Hoom”

This is a story about a world within a world. The reader is introduced to the cobwebs in the hallways of a mentally challenged person’s mind. The book catches him by the collar and takes him on a whirlwind of a trip. Immediately enough, the reader finds himself inside the four walls of that unique world in which Imelda resides. He is introduced to the trials and tribulations of the narrator’s life and that of his father and sister. While the wheels of existence revolve in a normal pattern for everybody else outside that apartment, a stark contrast is painted inside those four walls. The reader tries to voluntarily dive into the erratic machine that is Imelda’s mind and, as a result, is taken on a roller-coaster ride as the chapters unfold. There are moments when he is able to untangle a few knots and is lulled into feeling that he is finally being able to decipher this weirdly enigmatic but oh-so-real character. At other times, he is rudely brought back to earth when he realizes that the untangling of knots was more of an illusory phenomenon. The volatile mindset and the lack of a proper direction in the thought process coupled with generous helpings of suicidal tendencies and erratic actions and decisions tests the husband’s, the son and the daughter’s endurance.

Even amidst this chaotic environment, there are healthy dollops of narratives which give the reader a sneak peek into the Imelda and The Big Hoom of yesteryears. The description about her job and the courtship that ensued gives a sense of direction and normalcy to an otherwise ravaged character. Understanding her causes the reader to feel an involuntary sense of empathy for the family as a whole. The Big Hoom endures this tsunami of madness and carries out his duties like a true stoic would. This, in turn, makes him a larger than life character drawing the reader towards him even though his character is shrouded by a veil of silence. Through the narrator’s words and otherwise, one gradually realizes that the undertone of sadness is exacerbated through undulating waves of negativity and the one simple thing they crave for is what the whole world takes for granted – a normal happy life. The book essentially helps us to revisit our own lives and makes us understand how fortunate we really are. Here is a family where the children have been forced to grow up faster than usual and the father has steadily grown weary of his burdens. Here is a family where a normal incident-less day is celebrated euphorically. Here is a family that would give anything to be in our shoes and experience the normal happy life.

The saga of Imelda’s life and the people willingly and unwillingly embroiled in it opens up a new disturbing world that the reader could not have ever fathomed otherwise. As a result, the book is a brave trend-setter which veers off the beaten path and makes the reader sit up and take notice.

 

Published in Efflorescence, Journal of the Department of English, Naba Ballygunge Mahavidyala, India (July, 2013)

%d bloggers like this: