Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Story of My Second Marriage

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Pathshala Funwala

He sat amidst the squalor. His house, with asbestos sheets as its walls didn’t have any window. But the windows of his heart were always open. He wanted to learn and his mother encouraged him to do so. His house though small was no less than a museum. Drums of various sizes were properly arranged at the entrance. The plastic bottles were kept in a big net. The newspapers and magazines were the only things which were allowed inside the house not because they were special but they were likely to be damaged by rains or the dogs that fought for no reason in the night.

This is how his romance with the letters in the print started. He had been to a primary school where he learnt to read and write in Marathi. So he would pick up Marathi newspaper and magazine and read out the stories in it. His mother would stand akimbo. His son’s reading had opened a new world to her. She had never heard these stories from anyone. The only stories she heard living in that ghetto were of women who were abused by their husbands and men who were drenched in liquor. His reading gave them a new purpose of life to both of them. They laughed together and tears voluntarily rolled down their eyes when they read a poignant tale. They read about the Taj Mahal and the Marina beach and visited both these places sitting on the words of print and using some imagination.

Aai what if I could read those English magazines?’ He asked one day. The English magazines always stood apart from their Marathi counterparts. Their pages were glossy and the men and women that featured in them appeared from another planet. Plus it contained pictures of foreign locations. ‘Wow, it would be indeed a great experience. I am all ears to hear those stories from English magazines. But will you please translate those stories for me in Marathi. You know I don’t know English.’ Gangubai told Nihar.
Aai where I know English?’ Nihar said and the dejected duo didn’t feel like reading anything that day.

Then one day Nihar’s eyes fell upon an advertisement in the newspaper. Just give a missed call on 8055667788 and learn English it said. Nihar borrowed his mother’s mobile phone. She worked as a domestic help and heer employer had given her his old mobile phone so that he could contact her. Nihar called the number and life changed for good for both him and his mother. They never thought learning English was so easy. Soon both of them began to read the English newspapers and magazines which they always wanted to read.

So if you have anyone around who wants to learn English please share this number 8055667788 and open the gateways to their learning.
I am blogging about Pathshala Funwala by Nihar Shanti Amla Oil in association with BlogAdda

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Half Pants Full Pants - Book Review

With half pants full pants, Anand Supi transports us into the world of 1980s. He makes us revisit our childhood in small towns, when there were no gazettes and where time stretched endlessly like today’s TV serials. This isn’t a novel. But it is a collection of childhood memories. Slightly distorted, slightly incoherent, yet immensely enjoyable.

Today’s generation, which is born into abundance and where new things pour into the house at the click of the mouse, would never understand what a joy it was to buy a new mixer or TV set in the 1980s. It was a sort of celebration, for which the entire lane and all the family and friends gate crashed and the hosts happily absorbed them into their festivities like a sponge. Half pants full pants may help them imagine that world, which if not a global village, was a village family for sure.

The ten paise coins battered under the trains, the pee breaks, the rubber lizards, the early crude versions of reward points, Anand Supi gets everything right and gives the book some verisimilitude. If you are a child who grew in this time period read the book for it is nostalgic, if you are a child born in today’s digital world, read the book to know how was the childhood of your parents.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

My Hanuman Chalisa

There is not an Indian who hasn’t heard of Hanuman Chalisa, some may have recited them, but many are unaware of its deep underlying meaning which is obscured behind its Awadhi quatrains. Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Hanuman Chalisa is undoubtedly the most interesting take on it.

With stories drawn from the puranas, the tantras and the folklore Devdutt provides us a sumptuous read. The book is overflowing with interesting nuggets like in the Telgu Ramayana, despite knowing that Ravana’s life resided in his navel, Ram shot only at the head of Ravana as he was too proud a warrior to shoot below the neck and it was Hanuman who sucked air into his lungs and caused the wind to shift direction making Ram’s arrow turn and strike Ravana’s novel.

Connecting Hanuman with Shiva, the author says as the centuries passed the overtly masculine nature of Hanuman was toned down. Just as Shiva was domesticated by Shakti Hanuman’s gentle side is evoked by Sita. Since there can be no Shiva without Shakti may say that Shakti took the form of Hanuman’s tail and always accompanied him. According to the author at one time women were not allowed to worship Hanuman. But now that Shakti resides in his tail, they worship him.

According to the author by repeating the story or Ram again and again, Hanuman understands Ram, and discovers the Ram within him, the ability to be dependable for those who are dependent , even those who are unworthy, like the stream of hungry and frightened devotes who venerate him in his temples.

Beautiful drawings by the author adorn the pages of this book and makes the reading an enjoyable experience. At places the connections appear too far stretched, but that does not take away the tenuous research which the author has put in shaping this book. If you are a Devdutt Pattanaik fan, you must have lapped the book by now, and if you aren’t you will not repent reading this book.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Return of Damayanti

Nisha Singh’s The Return of Damayanti is second book in the series featuring detective Bhrigu Mahesh and his friends Sutte.

Bhrigu Mahesh was once a police man. Now he is a private detective. Nataraj Bhakti is a retired clerk. He is haunted by the spirit of his dead wife. He seeks Bhrigu’s help. As Bhrigu investigates, the mystery deepens and takes a sinister turn. A woman is brutally murdered. Bhrigu has to find the killer or he will continue with his killing spree. 

So Bhrigu and Sutte storm into Bhakti’s house where there are numerous other colourful characters. Bhakti brother Chiranjeev, sister-in-law Premkala too pack away amongst the suspects. Then there is Savita, Bhakti’s younder sister. His eldest sister has breathed her last and her teenager son resides in the same house, in the village with a heavy name Krishna Dwar. Bhakti has announced a prize for hunting his wife’s killers. The police inspector is more interested in the prize and hence passes the information which he has gathered to Bhrigu, of course on the condition that the booty would be shared between the two. So who is the killer or is it really the ghost of his wife.

Though The Return of Damayanti is a part of the Bhrigu Mahesh Phd series, one can easily read this book without reading the first installment. It is a standalone novel. Also the author has paved for a sequel. She has tried to build a brand Bhrigu and Sutte. The Return of Damayanti falls into three parts. The first part wastes lot of ink in building the characters and the plot. Action steams in the second part, where thinks begin to move forward albeit they crawl and not run. The third part slowly unravels the culprit and his motives. There are enough twists and turns in this part, but by the time you reach there you are utterly enervated.

The author has come up with a flash file in the end of the book, where Bhrigu solves a nano case in a jiffy. Interesting way to hook the readers for sure.

Like most of the suspense novels The Return of Damayanti tracks on the hackneyed path. Even that would not have been a problem if it paced well. But it scrambles to reach the climax. The language is the biggest hindrance for the reader. Being too verbose it simply doesn’t click with the readers. It hurts because The Return of Damayanti has a soul, but it is crushed under too many descriptions and faces the pressure to fit into the format of other legendary sleuths. The authors tells a lot but shows very little.

The Return of Damayanti is like a bhel, which despite generous amounts of the right ingredients just doesn’t taste right. The writing is insipid and the story moves slow. But as they say pulp fiction is never out of fashion, even if ridden with cliches, not to forget the sidekick of the detective. So mystery fans may lap this book up. 

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