Free for download only on 4th and 5th March 2020

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Different Beads of the Same String - book review


Different Beads of the Same String is a collection of short stories written by Sujay Malik. These diverse stories are interesting, with human conflict at their core.

The opening story And Then She Found It Again is about Anahita, a young woman of eighteen who has failed in her CA examination. Her relationship with her mother, like any other girl of her age, is rocky. This story demonstrates how a stormy youth can be transformed for the better by offering some love and understanding.

'He,' Pluto and the Incomplete Solar System is a love story which remains incomplete inter alia because of difference in religions. In Feelijus the writer adopts a scary narration style to highlight the plight of those millions who wait for justice. This story, though disturbing is a creative genius for sure.

Pushed into a Corner is about the discrimination, particularly sexual harassment which women from the North-east face due to their distinguishable physical features. Weaved amidst communal violence the Genuine Protector is a tale with a twist. What if you fall in love with the man from the same community which has massacred your own family member and robbed you of your speech and hearing, is a question dealt in the story Converted Language.

Then and Now cites the dramatic transformation of a person who had been wronged into the justice giver. The Missing Link shows the plight of a couple whose son is missing after a devastating earthquake. The Apt Time underlines the blind faith of masses in Godmen in India and its unfortunate repercussions. The Boy Who Uttered 'That' Word exhibits the double standards which teachers adopt sometimes.

Sujay's writing is poignant and disturbing, more disturbing then poignant. He touches varied subjects and sometimes simply leaves you shaken to the core, without offering any solution. When it comes to originality and social context, I give him full marks. The stories leave an impact on you. The dialogues though are a big problem. The characters speak bookish language and that makes them sound unreal. Yet if you, like me, admire short stories, would like this book. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Milkman, his nephew and my old laptop

What I want to sell is a buffalo and not a laptop Mom.’
Come again.’
I said I want to sell a buffalo.... Sorry I wanted to say that what I want to sell is a laptop and not a buffalo.’
I know that’
and that is the reason why you told about it to the milkman.’

The burly milkman tore the non-existent curtains in front of my eyelids and stood there on his signature hard and sturdy black gents bicycle, adroitly balancing the two milk cans on each side. He smiled behind his flowing moustache as he watched the screen of my laptop which he had perched on the handle of his bike.

See if you want to sell, you have to speak.’
I agree, but to a milkman?’
But my mother was very firm on her stand. The following days our two maids with the same name, whom I had named as Shanta one and Shanta two, our watchman and the old aunty who took out her dog for a walk, and smiled back at my mother, knew that my old laptop was for sale. I told my friends and the laptop mechanic that my laptop was for sale. On second thoughts I felt that my mother, who didn’t possess any management degree, had succeeded in breaking into the market which I had never thought of.

Its brand new. My son, since his childhood handles his things with great care. So even after years of usage, his things appear as if we have just bought it from the market and the laptop it is super fast. These days he even buys groceries and some times vegetables too from it.’ This was my mother’s marketing pitch.

The next week the burly milkman came to our house in the afternoon.
Bhaiyaji did you forget to give us the milk in the morning?’ I asked when I opened the door for him.
Na, na babua, this is Ramesh my nephew and we have come to see the laptop.’ He said. A young man who appeared to be an abridged version of the milkman stood next to him.
I escorted them into the house. My mother joined us with a victorious smile on her face.

The young man examined the laptop. ‘I liked it.’ He said. My mother’s smile stretched all along her face. ‘Five thousand.’ He said, quoting the price for my laptop.
What?’ I said. ‘I got it for thirty five thousand.’

Then we negotiated. The prospective buyer increased the purchase price by rupees one hundred for every ten minutes and after one and half hour, during which I told him about the technical specifications of the laptop, hearing which he sounded indifferent but the milkman nodded his head in appreciation, his quote stood at six thousand.
If the laptop is so good, why are you selling it.’ Asked the milkman when there was an impasse.
That is because he has got another one from his company. What is the point in keeping two laptops in home. You cannot garland them around your necks.’ It was my mother. Now I was really appreciating her skills. It was only the milkman and my mother who laughed at the garlanding around the neck joke.

Then I used another strategy which I had learnt while studying negotiations. I offered the milkman’s nephew a set of speakers free if he purchased the laptop. But he didn’t catch the bait. His funda was simple. He wanted to buy the laptop for no more than rupees six thousand. That was the dead end to negotiations and my laptop didn’t reach the milkman’s nephew’s hands.

Finally I sold my laptop to a very dear friend, who was facing a financial crunch and was in dire need of a laptop. He being a friend, there was no any question of negotiations and I simply accepted whatever he thrust into my pocket. I wish I had known about cashify back then. You can sell your laptops, mobile phones and other gadgets on cashify. Use coupon code CLEANCASH and get additional Rs.250 on your sale. So what are you waiting for. #CleanUpCashOut

Friday, 13 October 2017

Mad Country - Book Review

I had read writers from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But I never knew that English writers existed in the tiny mountain country of Nepal as well. Thank you Mad Country for introducing me to the Nepali writer Samrat Upadyay.

Mad country is collection of eight short stories, all set in Nepal. The setting works in favour of the book for apart from the scenic locations in movies, we hardly know the true Nepal. The author paints an incredible yet true picture of the country which abuts us.

The opening story Fast Forward touches dynamics of media-politics relationship. I felt indeed Nepal has rubbed something from its neighbour and cultural cousin - India. Beggar Boy demonstrates how lonely we are amidst all the riches. Though the reason why the protagonist takes up the life of the beggar was beyond comprehension. The characters in Samrat’s stories work out that way, the way they want, even if it may appear crazy, absurd for the rest of us. He subtly touches homosexuality in almost every story for unintended reasons again.

What Will Happen to the Sharma Family is a light read. It narrates how destiny can turn a zero into hero. In Freak Street we meet an American woman whose soul has turned a Nepali within six months of her stay in Nepal. But what happens when her life oscillates between two nationalities and two contradictory set of values sprouting from them. Dreaming of Ghana again in true Samrat style is the story of freaky people and their freakier journeys. An Affair Before the Earthquake is the shortest story in the book and is about a love story gone all wrong. Mad Country shows who political prisoners are and their lives in the prisons. America, the Great Equalizer is a slightly incomprehensible story again where the protagonist behaves in the most illogical manner.

I liked this book for the different, refreshing flavour which it offers. If you are looking forward for something like that this book is to be lapped up.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Adventures in Farland - Book Review

Adventures in Farland by Moshank Relia is a wonderful book for children. This is the story of Meera who is invited for the New Moon Party at the Farland. Two brats Bira and Vira accompany her. Windman and Starhead ply her in the spaceship. Their spaceship has an emergency landing. The Queen of Witches holds the Windman and Starhead captive. She has a sinister motive of attacking the Farland. Queen Halo, queen of Farland is locked in the wardrobe. No prizes for guessing that our protagonist Meera ensures that there is triumph of the right at the end.

Writing a book for children is the most tasking task. But Moshank gets it perfectly right. I couldn’t control my laughter when I came across words like Bang Clank, Tick, Tack and Khee Khee Khee Khee. The names of the characters like Toad Hearty, Mastiff the dog and places like Lost Forest and Laughing Village show both the creativeness and understanding of the child psyche of the author. These interesting characters and places are sure to make the book a huge draw among the children.

The writing is simple and the editing is clean. I am sure children would simply lap this book up. Before I part here is a simple poem from the book.

We wish to be with princess everyday
Sandwiches and sausages, endless, ho-ho dance and pray
The Kingdom of Farland is a paradise
Everybody on their feet, dance and dance high
Clap for the toad Hearty
Look how well he is dressed for the New Moon Party
High and high, everybody try.