The Silent Breeze

Be quiet for a while. Listen.

Tag: Online Writing

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)

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The Oddity

While the waste-paper basket sits on the ground and sleeps

A good long sleep

 It gets wrapped in wasteful material

Amidst an air-conditioned environment

And a clean uniform rug

On which stand clean cubicles

Educated people and comfortable chairs

Intelligent computer screens

And a consistent ticking of the clock

 —

Such a pristinely organized aura

Man-made but does that matter?

Hidden in the dark corner meanwhile

Is the sleeping waste-paper basket

Unwanted by-products

Away from the line of vision

Convenient

Dump

And look away

 —

Disgrace

In a man-made oasis

Cere Bellum

Soaked in thought
Wrapped by the waxy cranium
One beautiful existence
Existing in the mind

Bella
Ballerina
Brain
Beautiful ballet
In my mind
Lonesome and beatific

Immediate Salvation

Send me on a trip
Across the hallway
Floored by marble
Four walls
Decreasing empty space
Decreasing increased
Somehow thrust
Onto the balcony
Gulps of oxygen
Solace

The Escapist

Breathing
In a bottle
Unopened
Choked
Liquid interior
Vacuum exterior
Where
Do you escape?

Point Of No Return

Linger
In the gaps
Between the cobwebs
In the dark long hallway
Light… Non-existent
A hand beckons

But it is dark…

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 .

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Carbonated

The flimsy cup

Holds the dark liquid

Holds it

Firm

Tight

Disciplined… Even then…

The liquid beckons

The external darkness

Ignored

By the lusting mouth

The momentary sinful union

Refreshing yet dark

Invigorating yet poisoned

The inviting skin

Hiding the negative

Society and its men

Reflections

Of the carbonated desire

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.

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