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Book Review: I belong to the stage is the perfect rom-com


Book Review: I belong to the stage

Author: Karan Singh Surana

Rating: Three and a half stars

Introduction:

There is something breezy about love stories that make them relatable and down to earth but in today’s age with countless saccharine tales flooding the market, it compels us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Being a self-confessed campus romance lover, it’s a genre that I love reading but at the same time, many novels fall into the drudgery and routine, having read and done that. Karan Surana’s latest novel, “I belong to the Stage” avoids this pitfall for it injects a dash of freshness in a tale of love that the college-going crowd will identify with and which brings back the days of innocence and thrilling adventure of falling in love. This romance novel celebrates not only love but also friendship and as a writer, Karan Surana proves his mettle in mixing the right ingredients and bringing the characters alive to strike the right chord with the audience.

Narration:

Let’s jump straight to I Belong to the Stage which starts with a difficult love between Sahil and Natasha blowing hot and cold where they eventually drift apart. Don’t be disheartened for a second chance at love is worth trying and experimenting with.

What’s a love story without bonding with friends? It remains the forte and backbone of the story where Karan lightly broaches the topic of friendship and puts to the fore a chance meeting of Sahil with this gang Sneha, Vishakha, Puja and Vikram during a unique journey and strengthening the bond. The writer deserves all credit for the narration in depicting the flawless beauty, gaze and style of the girls in an effortless manner and which is no less than Yash Chopra’s candy floss romance.

There is something unique in the book which sets it apart from the rest in the way in which the ‘cute moments’ post-break between Natasha and Sahil sashays in the form of ‘love chits’. Call it cliché but don’t we all miss those tiny moments in our past love stories and Sahil has quite a list:  “All of your romantic cells are buzzing today only when you are aware that my number is roaming….Baby don’t hurt my tushy…Remember your 10,000 watt smile and your crazily beautiful eyes.”

Our hearts beat for emotions, feeling and simply love what we crave in making quite a contrast and breeding conflict on eventually dating a friend. Love can be conflicting, complex, or simply like a windy breeze. We have all been there, right falling for a friend and such emotions can kill! Here’s the caviar. Visakha and Sahil make quite an unlikely couple in this tale about love, break up, and friendship. Eventually, friends turned into lovers where the author captures the emotions with ease be it about stars aligned in a straight line, naughty one-liners, intimacy and 11 pegs.

The naughty one-liners stand out: “Keep your fucking social services to yourself. If it is for some personal service, then I can think about.” The conversation between the friends turn lovers is a dish too tempting to resist, be it cuddling, padded bro and of course stage fright replete with failings in front of a live audience to become a stand-up comedian. I belong to the Stage is about love and aspiration, read following the heart or passion which the author injects in this tale of love.  An interesting aspect in the book is love marries passion coupled with Karan Surana introducing blurbs in the text is a novel way of helping to capture attention and breaking the routine that can seep in from time to time. Truly said, “Life is all about connecting the dots.”

What’s Not?

There is a long monologue depicting the character’s second attempt at stand-up or tips on what to do or not do while performing in a crowd. It gets a tad too long and boorish at some point which is clearly not needed while at the same time slows the otherwise pacy narration. 

Final Words:

I belong to the Stage is an attempt to rewrite the rules of love fiction or what I call college campus romance and it remains true to itself owing to the honesty and playfulness with which Karan has penned in a light manner and making it a complete page-flipping affair. It taps into the aspirations of young readers in India and injects a dash of reality on how love is an emotion that keeps us going, echoing the pulse of youngsters when it comes to love and romance. It’s the almost perfect book for the young generation and Go, Get it.

The author contacted me to do the review in exchange for a free copy of the book’s e-version on Amazon. You can click to buy the book here. Connect with Karan Surana on Twitter.

Love

V

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Vitamin H works as the perfect anti body


Book Review: Vitamin H Volume 2

Author: Abhishek Vipul Thakkar

“Don’t let anyone disperse seeds of doubts on your land of faith. Small minds are always afraid of the rise of the great ones.”

The first volume of Vitamin H, a bouquet of inspiring quotes came as the capsules of daily intake winning hearts and it’s only natural that Volume 2 was awaited with bated breath. There were expectations with the book of quotes which no doubt is inspiring but at the same time distinct from varied genres where you can see the writer gently touching soul-stirring themes across issues such as women and caste-based, positive thoughts, happiness, spirituality, motivation and combating adversities.

At one shot, the quotes are curated simply and ingeniously showing that the author has observed the humdrum of life in a close manner and at the same time, it works like herbs for the well-being of the spiritual mind and physical body.

The quotes penned by the author are meant to gently sink inside us like slow breathing or enjoying every bit of our favorite food or feeling. Every quote is meant to be popped like medical syrup, uplifting every time it is read and particularly when adversities get the better of you. We live in a world where we grapple with several issues of anxiety or depression and uncertainty in a world infested by COVID-19. Vitamin H serves as the perfect jab we need to take vaccines every day to inspire, uplift and empower.

The book starts with a beautiful and deep prelude by Purba Chakraborty who is herself a seasoned author and poetry. It couldn’t be a bigger testimony on the book of quotes from no less than the talented writer who has designed an enthralling cover.

Some quotes are simple and work in an effective manner calling us to reflect on the essence of life, “There is no pathway to Love. Love is the path.” Poignant is this quote for our dreamland called India to become the country we have always wanted it to be, “If we want our nation to succeed, we need to get rid of the birth-based caste system.” This is one issue I feel strongly close about be it caste or religion and if we are stuck in the stone age, we can never succeed as an individual, community or nation. Let’s take a minute and reflect on what Abhishek conveys to us.

“Poetry is the air. Prose is the Wind.” It’s beautiful. It’s lyrical. This is what poetry is all about and lending such aesthetic meaning to verses.

“If staying true to your path makes you a pariah, then be one.”

In our everyday life, we tend to disagree more than we agree because we are unique entities and wired differently. This is the beauty about enriching lives and Abhishek sends a powerful message: “If we argue relentlessly without understanding somebody’s opinion, we are trying to gauge the depth of water without diving into the ocean.” It is important to understand where one comes from and what leads to reacting in a particular way and making us not just related but empathetic beings.

Girls’ education remains an important aspect enshrined in the quotes.  He does it not only splendidly but has a soulful way of reminding naysayers, “If you water the roots, the leaves on the branches will surely receive water. If you educate girls, world will surely become a better place”. The quotes are done in such a realistic manner yet never losing the youthful spring, right from getting older and bolder should remain an assertion and a prayer of sort, or questioning every rule as the birthright. Isn’t this the path to grow as enlightened beings?

I shall ask you a question: What is the path or secret recipe to rejuvenate and grow as a spiritual or unique entity. It couldn’t be better than that in the mind of the author:

Learning. Relearning and Unlearning. It comes as the most important for us to learn, unlearn and learn again. How about emptying the bottle?

Vitamin H: Volume 2 is the book that should find a place of pride on your shelf or kindle, popping a pill every single day at a time when we are battling the second wave. Vaccinate the soul and nourish the mind’s anti-body for Vitamin H has no limit. I shall leave you with this poignant quote to reflect upon:

“Your daughter is your biggest asset and NOT your liability. Therefore, ponder more about her education and career rather than worrying about her marriage.

Read the blurb on Goodreads and click on Amazon to get a copy. I wish to thank Naaz Farhaa of Lab Academy Book Reviewers approaching me for the review.

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The Passionate Princess laced with visual opulence, ode to bold woman in medieval times


Book Review

Author: Sundari Venkatraman

Rating: Three and a half

Publisher:

Genre: Historical Romance

Introduction:

A historical romance set into 14th century India is no child play and particularly when there is so much influence through our rich Indian literature such as Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, and Mahabharata or even Devdas, for that matter making it a daunting task. It begets a question: How was love in those days enshrined in a Kingdom, costumes and jewelry worn, conversations, place of men and women, mating, and for that matter intoxicating drinks.

As I read the latest offering by Sundari Venkatraman, the first thing that came to the fore is whether women suffered the same fate as they do in the current, modern times or distant past right from patriarchy, sexism, and freedom to and making love.  At one glance, The Passionate Princess is a sublime story to tell.

Narration:

The chapters in the book enchant readers in this wondrous tale and are hauntingly beautiful. Delightful prose about love and jealousy coupled with the description of the royal ethos, garments sequined with gold, food and letters with the touch of medieval paint nuances while offering a wondrous image.

The wandering gypsies and tribes, music, the tharra-desi liquor and wedding of Princess Hemangini with Prince Devendra is what a tapestry of dreams is made of. The description adds magnificence to the tale and Sundari Venkatraman as a writer pours zing where celluloid beauty meets fiction. She simply captures readers in this historical fantasy tale.  

Penning a historical romance book is in itself a mammoth challenge for any writer and this is where Sundari Venkatraman’s book scores by capturing the 14th century and presenting her heroine as bold. Princess Hemangini is very much a modern woman, shining with courage and never shying in asking what is rightfully her whether love, respect and desire. The writer surely knows the pulse of her audience and The Passionate Princess has all the making of a blockbuster book, whether it’s the inner desire, tracing beauty hidden in intimacy and intense sex.

A writer who surely knows how to caress her characters and effortlessly making love to them in a honest and subtle manner. It’s pure beauty. The sensual and intimate sex set against the atmosphere and description, exploring the seamless and is never a dull moment. What I like with Sundari Venkatraman is that with every book, she brings something new, at times and escaping from the dull, drab and routine.

The Passionate Princess is not just a book but offers a historical experience of romance and jaw-dropping description where every word sentence and narration is laced with visual opulence serving as an aesthetic treat. For instance, antariya and uttariya seeped into the intimate romance narrative is education to aficionados of romance, wannabe writers on how the importance of research makes a compelling book.

The theme of conflict and jealousy is present on one hand between Rani Maa, Queen Kanchana Devi and the new bride Hemangini on one hand and the other between the latter and Devendra sets the pace in making it intriguing. The longing for love and insecurity is inimical to the plot and gnaws the characters as they veer to the untold past and palace secrets.

What’s Not!

Sundari Venkatraman is one hell of a writer who challenges herself every time and constantly experiment in her genre, romance. Arguably, a historical romance in itself is a herculean task and possible pitfalls that one cannot help to avoid. As much as I love the story, I feel that at some point the description set against those days gets lost in translation to a certain extent during the escapade of royal lovers post-wedding. Make no mistake the detailing during the escapade is an absolute delight with the disguising making it a high point. The aspect about seeing the Prince as vulnerable is missing and would prefer to see this personality part rather than the perfect and muscular. Yet, these are rare exceptions in an otherwise brilliant book.

Final Words:

Sundari Venkatraman in this compelling tale has shown what Passionate a Princess Hemangini is. It is an ode to a valiant woman demanding what’s rightfully her as a lover, warrior, and wife who could rule the Kingdom of Indrapuri for many years. I want to see a sequel with Princess Hemangini calling the shots. Are you listening Sundari Venkatraman? The allegories and metaphors make The Passionate Princess not just a fast-paced read but a novel worth your time breaking away from boredom that creeps into the vast jungle of love and Indian romance, we love to explore. A mesmerizing tale where Queen Kanchana Devi bears a slight shade of King Kaikeyi and romance a la Lord Rama and Goddess Sita.

The author contacted me for the book review in exchange for a copy. I am already late with the review and apologize to her for taking hell long time. Click on Amazon to buy the book. Read the blurb on Goodreads and connect with the author on FB and Twitter.

Love

V

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Book Review: Teens book live out fantasy and adventure


Book Review: A San Franciscan Dream

Author: Saad Amaan

Genre: Teens and adventure

Rating: Three stars

Introduction:

A book about teenagers by teenagers, exploring San Francisco during a maiden trip, and getting stuck in the US make it replete with eyes twinkling with dreams and adventurous excitement. When Saad Amaan, the 11-year-old writer contacted me on Linkedin to review the book, I didn’t say No and the end products surprised me for it speaks the language and lingo of teens, in a freshly innocent manner and at the same time passionately for a generation never shy to explore and conquer their dreams.

Six friends, Aman Utraviolet, Tina Gates Ultraviolet, Zee Edward D’Souza, AFN Siddharth Dikshit, John Kim Lufthaver and Heather Kim Lufthaver belonging to slightly different ages and thrilled with excitement in exploring an alien world makes the novel uber cool. A fun read at a time when travel has eluded us in more than one way with the pandemic and it wouldn’t be wrong calling it, futuristic writing. I was impressed with the scientific language, humor and weirdness making it a fresh read. From preteens ordering hamburger and eleven plus babysitting a six-year-old girl, the dialogue veers towards candy and stuff, surviving on allowance we call pocket money, it makes for a joyride of sort.

Read the book blurb on Goodreads

Narration:

A tale about Alice in Wonderland vs Agathe Christie meeting Christopher Pike with the young guns playing detectives and lending a ubiquitous charm with the usage of French language. Don’t they say pardon my French? There is a certain charm and alluring in the way French seeps into the narrative of this cool tale, the bonjour means good morning or Hi adding to the yin and yang of this exhilarating adventure.

There is no dearth of creative imagination laden into the aspirational when the teens meet Sundar Pichai, yeah right, who wants the autograph of Aman Ultra Violet. It makes for quite a lively imagery interaction between Aman and the Google CEO, termed as the ‘super-megaferociously-never-beforespecial’. It makes for fun interaction and getting ‘zanier’ what with the fourth dimension.

An interesting aspect about Saad’s book is the effortless blend of the lingos, from pretty dorky to thimblefuls and troubles jocks adding to the fun element.  The robotic as a metaphor central to teens if I can call it is intriguing for this teenage book but worth the effort with a dint of Tolkienism in the modern world.

What’s Not:

As unaware as I am about the lingo and style of the younger teens and preteen generation, the lack of spacing in many sentences and expressions makes it a tad difficult to read. At some places or the other, it does looks fun but when repeated in several instances in the book, it gets a tad repetitive, breaking the flow and not to say reader unfriendly to a certain extent. I love the creative interaction with Pichai but at times, I feel that the author has overdone it right from the ‘accent’ to the ‘hasty explanation’.

Final Remarks:

A San Franciscan Dream by Saad Amaan is a commendable attempt to tap into a world that the teenage crowd will identify with and making it a fun read.  The book surely has glitches but it’s something that the young and promising Saad will learn with time but surely is a lively adventure with a rich and appealing texture. The language and teen conversation are fun, making it a madcap journey with numerous twists. Read the book if you are a teen or a millennial like me stuck in childhood and wanna re-explore teenage days in the present times. I promise to be fun. Will you?

Love

V

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Review: Sonnal Pardiwala invests kindness and empathy helping get hold of panic


Book Review: “Get Hold of Panic: The Personal Account of a Psychologist.”

Genre: Psychology and Self Help

Published: November 2020

Introduction:

Sonnal Pardiwala is a counseling Psychologist and there is no one role that she hasn’t played, right from Home Schooling to films and author in her latest book, “Get Hold of Panic: The Personal Account of a Psychologist.” Living up to the motto, “The only person you can work with is, ‘Yourself’: transform yourself and others will transform as a consequence”, the author discusses the inner ingrained fear that many among us face as we struggle to get hold of panic, particularly where we are all broken as human beings and the innate refusal to acknowledge the fears, sadness and inability to express.

Narration:

The book is a personal account and writing about the several issues faced demand tremendous courage. As a Psychologist, she lets the real person come alive on dealing with trauma and something that can impact the mental health of many among us while growing up.

The author offers a step-by-step and down to earth approach in dealing with issues such as anxiety and panic attacks. Trembling in the middle of the night, frantic heartbeat and chest getting tighter or intense fear seem real. Sonnal Pardiwala describes a panic attack that lasted for 15 minutes in her case and the feeling of being trapped. As human beings, we tend to RESIST to panic attacks. The book offers an introduction and a distinction is made between Panic attack and Panic Disorder in a simple manner where the former can happen twice in a lifetime. Panic attack is the extreme fear and panic that can last for 10 minutes before escalating into disorder which increases with intensity.

The various forms of coping mechanism and isolation such as Agoraphobia, Claustrophobia, Hemophobia, Hydrophobia, and Autophobia constitute the many forms of disorders. Attacks can be Cued, Uncued/Unspecified and Situational Predisposed where the author explains methodically to educate on how childhood trauma can work in adulthood. It makes for an insightful explanation, particularly for people like us who ignore how Psychology works.

The various causes, right from age, gender, abuse, family, genetic and trauma tells the story coupled with the role that the Vagus nerve can play as the 10th cranial system, considered as the longest ever. I know the terminologies may appear very technical if one hasn’t studied Psychology as a discipline but the beauty of reading Get Hold of Panic is that it not only helps us channel our energy but goes a long way to educate and build awareness. I think for anyone going through trauma, panic attacks, anxiety, or depression it is very important to make an effort to understand in reading the signs and owning up by getting an insider perspective. The book simplifies the big terminologies and guides us in understanding the patterns as well as helping to overcome numerous challenges such as defense mechanism or self-denial at the start.

Author and Psychologist Sonnal Pardiwala. Image credit: Facebook

She quotes Dr Stephen Porges latest paper on Polyvagal Theory on Neuroception in helping us to understand how the vagus nerve operates and the numerous biological links inside our body system, taking psychological intervention to an altogether different level, ranging from talk therapy and symptom management.

The Psychologist recommends few invaluable steps to intervene such as icepack applicable on wrist, cheeks and heart region or cold showers and cold beverages, benefits of slow breathing, stretching and lying flat on the back to stay calm together with depersonalization or surrealness in creating a disconnect as well as touch-putting hand on the heart for instance and gently moving, placing on belly muscles and rub mild.

Of course, there are various self coping statements that the author advocates and impacting the cognitive aspect. The tips come as handy in managing stress and anxiety level, such as flooding helping in exposing ourselves to trigger or enlisting support which matters a lot as we look at the stigma present in society. It’s very important to remove the shame and treat depression like any other illness.

Under the chapter, “Going Deep with Long Term Reflection,” Sonnal Pardiwala recommends various exercises to reflect upon which she classifies under age, Gender, Family, Rating on scale for Unmet Developmental Needs, and Questions for Introspection. The questions may disturb and ultimately, will push us out of our comfort zones in facing reality, revisiting our past and perhaps recognizing the signs in our everyday life. She also recommends writing any form of answer coming to the mind and without self-censorship that is bound to produce outstanding results.

The restructure of the Landscape tapping into Biological/Physiological, Mental/Cognitive and Emotional/Affective and Social/Cultural aspect represents important aspects of fear and panic which is often beyond our control.  It’s an eye-opener if we want to address mental issues and recognize the disorder. Several self-made mistakes may elude us as we dive deep into self retrospection which the author recommends as we are confronted with our fears as quoted by John Bradshaw, “We are raised by victims of victims.” This is what Sonnal teaches us on fear and emulating someone that may harm us, often hinging on self-destructive behavior. It can be someone we may remotely know or close to us. There are similar behavior patterns when often we react the same way as someone in the family.

As a psychologist, Sonnal narrates a personal account about someone suffering from Borderline Personality Symptom impacting relationships where perhaps our only outlet is internalized anger. I shall not elaborate too much on that but shall give my example about something that happened many years back while playing football with my nephew. I didn’t realize when I kicked the ball high that it almost landed on my cousin’s car when his wife was walking. I apologized. She told me that I am expressing myself. How much we hide our emotions and accumulate the trauma over and beyond, occupying every inch and space!

Crying can be therapeutic in venting out or for that matter, shedding excessive energy accumulated over time. I guess everyone has their way of coping with anxiety. The Psychologist advocates on being kind to ourselves through the various exercise whether crying, writing, speaking loud, revisiting hurt and ensuring that we will not allow humiliation to take place. Just leave the past behind. I particularly like the depth she explores on our long term relationships since the past can be painful as it unfolds in real-time.

An important section in Sonnal’s book is Cognitive which she approaches by touching on the mental filters, the assessment and learnings, the various patterns, denial, and rationalization coupled with questions for restructuring. What I like in the book is how the author brings to the fore personal aspects about her life and self-reflections embedded in exercises in helping the reader coming face to face with the underlying issues impacting mental health.

Final Words:

I haven’t read many books on Psychology, depression, or anxiety but what demarcates Sonnal Pardiwala from the rest is how she unpeels personal layers that go beyond technicalities.  It felt personal to me and I know that the book will remain with me, constantly going back to do the exercises and helping to deal with issues. Get Hold of Panic: The Personal Account of a Psychologist serves as a reminder that the Psychologist is a human being facing their battles. There are empathy and kindness in the way she approaches the book and the author doesn’t shy away in telling about going back to her Psychology textbooks after 20 years. I feel that kindness and positive vulnerability are strong messages conveyed in the book.  Get a copy of “Get Hold of Panic: The Personal Account of a Psychologist” if you want to understand mental health for it offers a sensitive approach in dealing with.

You can get a copy on Amazon. Connect with the writer on Facebook and Twitter.

Love

V

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Our Small Lives: A poignant tale about a migrant woman, social ostracization and patriarchy


Book Review: Our Small Lives

By Sehr Sajjad Emaad

Released in 2020

Rating: Three and a half stars

Read the blurb on Goodreads and click on Amazon to buy the book. The author can also be followed on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.

Introduction:

Sehr S Emaad’s Our Small Lives traces the journey of Sara whose family faces ostracization in Pakistan and called as Non-Muslim in their country of birth, pushing them in the quest for a better life in England.  The book is about the limited choices for a woman and freedom as she battles patriarchy. Sounds familiar, right? A very desi story on the plight of women, surrounded by patriarchy where the author has tapped poignantly on the tragedy of being a woman, countless are such stories hailing from traditional and migrant families, caught in an unfulfilled marriage coupled with the dichotomy of desires, forbidden love, and religion. 

Narration:

One thing that comes to mind is the lost freedom for Sara, uprooted from her home in Pakistan and the author depicts the food trolley at home with pastries, dahi, Pakoda and tea as a daily ritual in a powerful manner. A dichotomy on the role played by a woman and in this context Sara’s mother yet she endorses the old fashioned view on the place of women in society, perpetuating the inequality. Abba is the face of patriarchy and the dominant shadow to his wife and daughters, barring the exception of Feroz, the male heir to the family. 

Sehr Ahmed raises very important questions on the way society raises boys and girls. A contrast is drawn between Abba and Asfan who will become Sara’s husband and described as a contradiction despite the western education but remain rooted in the conservative upbringing at home. 

The B.A pass girl and educated in Pakistan and denied western education is a ploy for the husband to control her. A tale of having a domesticated wife. An interesting aspect in the book is the brief history of the Ahmadiya community through an ordinance by General Zia-Ul-Haq making us wonder about the subtlety of ‘caste’ to discriminate between ‘Muslims’ and ‘Ahmadiya’ similar to the upper caste syndrome in the Indian society.  Just to think the Ahmadiyas are not allowed to call their place of worship as Masjid or call of prayer as ‘Azan.’

A marriage made in heaven, described by the elders but in reality, a way to get rid of the daughter. Sadly, the education of the girl doesn’t make the cut and the author injects this sad fallacy, ‘The elders said, so you married who you are destined to marry.’ She makes a very strong statement in weighing the balance between limited choices or none at all and destiny with the archaic argument on who will look after you in old age. A man has the right to give the status of a woman but what about her choice as an individual!

The struggle of Sara, longing for desire and soon forbidden love happens when she meets writer Kunaal Singh during a book launch. The narration is done in an effortless manner where both speak about two countries sharing a common destiny, India and Pakistan. At first sight, Sara is a woman in search of her identity and who has pushed away from the sentiment of love yet a part of her wants to break away from living an oppressed life in this cage called marriage. The execution done through the characters, Asfan, Sara and Kunaal make Our Small Lives not only a beautiful book but an eye-opener on the unequal power game and patriarchy transcending societies.

What’s Not!

There is no doubt on the merit of the novel carrying a deep message when it comes to what a woman goes through in a marriage. However, the clash between Sara and Kunaal on one hand and the other with Asfan turns out to be quite simplistic, which relies on a metaphor. It does work to a certain extent, though. The novel could and would work better if it was longer to a certain extent to better flesh out conflicts and characters on the issues faced by women. Still, it doesn’t take away the book’s merit as a very important one to discuss.

Final Words:

Our Small Lives is a novel deeply entrenched in reality and the fallacy of tradition on what a woman goes through in society. Discrimination is a wrong pejorative but rather the pathos injected by the writer in writing this book and set against the backdrop of migration. It pushes the debate to explore gender inequality, the whole misplaced ego and religion chauvinism on deciding what is right for a woman.  The writing is effortless and tears the heart apart thinking on how equality is a distant concept that makes for interesting social media debates but realizing how cut off we are as privileged lot. Sehr as a writer knows how to bring light humor through the Hinglish, “Building is very Oonchi’” making Our Small Lives a book to read for everyone remotely connected to India or Pakistan where both countries have similarities on the treatment of women.

I was given a free copy of Sehr Emaad’s book by Anjali Sinha for review.

Love

V

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Book Review: Vitamin H, 111 days capsules for Happiness and Healing


Book Review: Vitamin H, Volume 1

Author: Abhishek Thakkar

Publisher:

Rating: Three and a half

Read the book blurb on Goodreads and click on Amazon to buy the book.

Introduction:

Magic capsules for 111 days to cure in today’s stressful and uncertain times. A clarion call to revisit the choices made, slowing down and taking a breath as we live in a rather unique COVID 19 pandemic makes Vitamin H the book to read.  Meet author Abhishek Deepa Thakkar prescribing Vitamin H and one quote per day helps in overcoming the tide to achieve growth. The treatment is simple by embracing the social, physical, metaphysical and psychological way of life.

Let start with Day 1. Abhishek reflects: “When the right time comes, you will see that the pain of living with the toxic people is greater than the agony born out of losing them.” It couldn’t get better in building the pillars in our respective relationships with people who matters and weeding out the toxic, negative relationships. The right start makes for a strong backbone as we make a beginning in creating a fine balance to achieve success emotionally and intellectually whether as an individual or team player in an organization or household.

There is no dearth of aspiration where the quotes are written in such a way to inspire and instilling confidence, like they say take a leap of faith and not losing the mojo to conquer. Sometimes, all it takes is to Let go, of old stories and living life with the new stories not holding back but set on the path of elevated growth, in the author’s words.

The quotes are poetic and stirring leaves in the heart helps to throw away the need for traditional medicine to cure. Abhishek reminds how ailments reside in the head. Take this profound and meaningful quote: “The withered leaves of the past will be swept away by the wind of the present moment…golden streak of optimism…blessed with holistic wellness focuses on well being of mind, body and spirit.”

We live at a time where anxiety is recurrent and the book, a collection of quotes advocates the need to tap into it through healing, kindness and selflessness in ensuring that the fearless mind doesn’t and shouldn’t cow down to the stumbling blocks. The author brings to light answers to life’s predicaments in a simple manner.  Acceptance goes a long way for us not to be ashamed of failures but be proud of the choices made.

A young writer injecting freshness in the underlying life’s philosophy and the quotes serve as a reminder at every crossroad on lessons mastered that we learned during the growing up times but lost on us as we grapple with numerous challenges faced.

One quote I strongly believe is how he advocates the empowerment of women, albeit supporting the education of the girl child and mother as the caregiver. There are many ways to help by sponsoring education or as a tutor, particularly in India when the girl faces discrimination, with a patriarchal society and the female is still treated as inferior. This will go a long way to bring equality in society. The book in itself is a pearl of wisdom advocated in never shying in spreading wings as unique individuals and not be bogged down by people pulling you down, for it makes us strong in expanding wings to soar.  Faith, accompanied by action matters in inching towards the goals sets upon to succeed in life, “Exhale persistent action.” The reflection is beautiful and inspires to achieve greatness.

The author gently touches several topics, be it growing to spread love and embrace acceptance with strengths and flaws. “Love is not only a verb but also the ultimate herb. It has the power to heal everything. It is the medicine which doctors often forget to prescribe.” One of the most beautiful quotes and works like magic for anyone facing tribulations and comes in the form of a prayer to heal.

Final Words:

Abhishek Deepa Thakkar is a promising, young author whose myriad reflections bring beauty in creating every single word. Vitamin H heals the broken and fragmented hearts, a capsule in bringing happiness to torn minds while fighting a battle of the past in nursing scars. It would be unfair to call the book a self-help guide but a prayer accompanying us in the routine life, relying on our old age rich traditions and practices embedded in modern lives.  From love to conditions of women, anxiety and light moments, Vitamin H is the book and a companion that will accompany you in this incredible journey called life.

I was approached to review the book by Lab Academia.

Love

V

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Loving You is daring and bold


Book Review:

Loving You by Anjali Sinha

Genre: Romance

Click on Amazon to buy the book. Read the blurb on Goodreads.

Introduction:

There are few books whose sole purpose is not only to entertain but unpeeling the layers of relationships in a light and breezy manner embedded with desire and sexuality serving as the backdrop. The book ‘Loving You: Have You Ever Loved Someone Who Didn’t Love You Back’ penned by Anjali Sinha is a short book and enraptures the readers making it a page-flipping affair, heating it where the USP lies in its bold and in your face writing.

Narration:

The writing is non-linear and direct that makes it easy to identify with the characters set in Ireland, something that the young college-going crowd and the millennial generation will identify with. It’s about love and desire when the character says, “I am hungry for affection.” Anjali effortlessly tightens the strings with sex playing high making the bedroom conversation hitting an octane level and uncensored with everyday intimate conversation and making conflict real and raw.

There is no running away with light humor flitting effortlessly and painting a visual imagery deciphering accent, “I like watching him pronounce the difficult French phrases like Je suis malade (I am ill) and rolling the tongue.” It makes for light moments getting real and honest with the right lines, “find an escape from everything, even himself…i don’t fuck him every night and the silence kills.”

Anjali writing is daring and bold in the way she sees things in a relationship and after all, there are many fucks or zero fucks in the new age relationships. Either way, the narrator is in the right place in deciphering the language in the manner we love and lending form laden with the character Ben’s marriage proposal making the Pizza vow for eternity or merely lost in the moment. Another gem of a line, “I love yo-I love Pizza.”

What’s Not!

A quick breeze romance carrying the fair share of conflict holds promise but tension among the two characters could have been built more intensely. But, then, it’s a short tale enthralling readers and a job done in entertaining and tapping into the varied nuances of relationships.

Final Words:

‘Loving You’ is a quick read bringing alive the moments running high and the author has successfully woven a tale bringing it to the right audience, the young generation lapping it. The last paragraph hits the climax and depicts the happy ending laden with subtlety as the visual imagery of intimacy is painted brazenly inferring to the ‘last requisite relic of old life’ in exploring endless aspects to a relationship and the dose of intimacy.

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Book Review: Purva Grover’s The Trees Told Me So is playwright’s delight


Book Review: The Trees Told Me So

Author: Purva Grover

Publisher: Niyogi Books

Rating: Four and a half stars

 

 

Introduction:

Purva Grover’s The Trees Told Me So is a collection of short stories narrating about cities, hidden emotions, and memories in a tender and sensitive voice melting hearts. 11 stories, heart-wrenching, rare friendships made, love, simplicity of life is a delightful serving where each comes alive making it a color palette of form and, the dewdrop deeply layered lending a ubiquitous expression of visualization in this joyride.

 

Narration:

 

Addiction is sold in the rusty and stained red, the betel leaves through the eyes of Chaurasia Panwala. Don’t we all have a favorite Panwala whose concoction melts our taste buds and hearts! Purva Grover paints a delectable image about hidden lives reverberating in the night pocked with noise and whipping a compelling story about the multitude charm of India.

“The Darkness of Red” lends strong imagery hinging on the marvel about the untold and the language is lyrical, at the risk of repeating myself and besotting the reader with the invisible character Sapna, lusted by many, men and women having both lovers and spouses is enthralling.

“They spoke of the joys of comparing the beauty of beloved to the moon.” Don’t we all have a story to hide?

“A Summer Ritual” is about the memories carved at granny’s place embedded with simplicity, the joy of childhood, and growing up, chatai under the tree, and verandah makes for powerful visualization. The story is deeply embedded in the small but simple childhood joys, the magical cupboard we craved for at granny’s place. Remember how we would sneak in to steal goodies.

“It was filled with things we needed: caramel cookies, chocolate bars, potato wafers, pack of balloons and buntings…I told Mum there is ‘no place like home’ was the grandparents’ place…smothered with love and care. Evocative. An interesting point the writer makes on how the gem of growing up is missing in today’s times yet there is nothing left in going back to relive the past.  

“Glass for Rs 1” is another expressive story melting hearts about the licensed trolley we find in every nook-and-corner of Indian streets. It’s about uncomplicated love and how two strangers find comfort in silence replete with human understanding, and a unique friendship forged. There is tragedy at the end where natural calamity doesn’t discriminate when it injects pain and takes our loved ones away.

One of the most powerful and heartbreaking stories in The Trees Told Me So is “Between Us, Daughter and Mother.” A rare sensitivity on how little we understand our innocent daughters. “My Mum never told me I had a vagina.” In itself, the phrase is deeply layered and wounds the heart on the character, an innocent child saying, “Mum, I was so ashamed to be naked. I hope you can believe me.”

It brought me to a reality that there are millions, hidden tales that should put us to shame and a Goddess lost is too many. The story melts and pierces the heart like an arrow as if silence could speak or tears moving us.

The last two stories in the book paint an evocative image about memory and pain in a diametrically opposite direction and an emotional bonding touching every single shred in the soul. “Over a Cup of Chai” is the story of Sonia and her daughter Rhea finding a common friend in Sharma Aunty serving chai to countless generations at the campus. It relives the college days where Purva Grover whips a tea storm, bringing the memories alive about campus life, discussions and familiar sounds, bubbling of water, stirring of sugar, stove pumping, and risk crunching jangled together. It makes for powerful imagery.

As I read the story, I re-experienced life in college and university, the sprawling campus, my friends’ voices and could see Sharma aunty as the tea maker in our days. How Purva has made Sharma aunty, alien to me an intrinsic part to re-imagine unlived days. The reunion of old students and Sharma aunty, and the batch mate adding a dip of honey and a friend without whom life would be incomplete. How we all wish to have a Sharma aunty in our college days, a mother figure and friend who never judged.

The vicissitude of loss and the pathos enshrined in pain is narrated in the first person making for effective funeral conversation tearing apart the heart. Multiple instances where I was brought to tears and took several pauses to let the feeling sinking inside. Purva has a rare flair with description making her a powerful storyteller in depicting the protagonist lying on the pyre, five feet an inch bed, and the depth of words on the stack of woods as a resting place for the departed soul.

Beauty embedded in the letter addressed by the soul to her young son, yearning for love and the pain of separation. A strong point is driven on tenderness and warmth while breaking taboo at the same time on boys don’t cry false narrative percolating in society. She reminds there is no wrong in pain and the right to grieve or setting free, “you should never let losing me compromise your life or lives of those around me.”

 

“I know you’ve never seen granny cry so much…can i ask you to keep holding hers (hands)? If you too feel like crying, cry.”

 

There are beauty and searing pain at the same time. “On the Bed of Wood” is laden with wisdom and education. So many times, we get angry at unfairness on wanting to leave everything but the mother gently reminds the son, “Always show up after the storm…telling someone that you love them despite any disputes.”

 

“Sometimes the wait can be forever, so never walk out in anger.”

 “Scent of the Familiar” is another beautiful story about the sister’s unbridled happiness in trusting Gupta Ji the Mehendi artist brings the joy of the past embedded in simplicity alive celebrating the special days of happiness. “Handsome Point” pays tribute to the charming but dying art of hair saloon on Indian streets. The stories bear their charm together with The Player, a riveting tale about the protagonists bedding rich married women yet there is pain deep within. Don’t we all wage battles inside us pretending to be brave?

 “A Bigger Place with more Feet” serves as a eulogy to the cobbler and tapping into the element of street smartness we call ethics. The theme of forbidden love with a twinge of surprise and twist unfolds through the unique, pacy narration style in “The First Kiss”.

 

What’s Not!

The Trees Told Me So is about countless lives and emotions depicted in a powerful yet elegant and simple manner. One thing that I sorely miss is more soul stirring tales where the author raises the bar higher, gently stroking the soul. I wanted more.  Almost impossible to hinge on drawbacks in this brilliant collection.

 

Final Words

Purva Grover has a unique flair for words and expression, uncanny ability for stories replete with human emotions drawing on pain, nostalgia, secret city tales, or revisiting childhood makes The Trees Told Me So an enthralling read. The various stories are an ode to the old world charm about the commoners and strugglers we meet on Indian roads and streets every day and from afar.  Fluid, sober narration and rich appeal through the visual imagery crafted to make the book poetry in motion and experience playing live. Purva Grover is truly a playwright.

 

The Trees Told Me So can be bought on Amazon. Connect with Purva Grover on her website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Review: Ritu Lalit’s non-fiction From Son to Stranger is beyond pain and loss


Book Review: From Son to Stranger

Author: Ritu Lalit

Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications

Genre: Nonfiction

 

 

Introduction:

 

Author Ritu Lalit’s non -fiction book, “From Son to Stranger” offers a personal account about schism with her son where loneliness and estrangement make it difficult coming to terms, hinging on depression and how nonacceptance can tear apart every shed in the flesh and soul. Journaling, she advocates, goes a long way to cope with loss and linking with the PAIN, where during the research for the book she met many such parents suffering estrangement in bringing the real stories alive.

 

Narration:

 

Ritu Lalit as a mother of two is honest in the way she deciphers the frailties and vulnerability from a subjective point of view, the blows took the time she was sick at the hospital to slowly get up and meditation helping to cope with the loss.  The best thing about the book is Lalit relied on statistics, meeting several estranged parents on causes ranging from unmatched expectations to abuse, spouse, sexuality, family divorce, remarriage, and property.

Maya is one frail village woman abandoned in the Akshardham temple and telling how A for Acceptance matters in dealing with the loss. The pain and grief on being abandoned and we cannot fathom what parents go through where expectations are perhaps the biggest culprit. A parent left alone with a carry bag of clothes or bare essential midway in the busy Delhi streets because the children thought otherwise or another one beaten by kids. The accounts are disturbing and often makes me wonder how an adult son or daughter has the heart in mistreating or abandoning a parent and how do they sleep at night.

The survey questionnaire is interesting on what constitutes estrangement, relationship statement, whether married or divorced, admitting the stark reality, and the role of spirituality. Seven stages of Grief, Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing, and Acceptance forms part of the Kubler-Ross Model where pain is never a linear process and post anger, what happens. A methodological approach is a real eye-opener on what someone goes through and an entire process in dealing with loss.

Emotions perhaps guide the entire process of losing someone dear, remembering the growing up years of an adult, dealing with an infant, and the smile that keeps resurfacing. It spoke to me a lot when at some point, I shouted at Mom and the pain it must have caused her in front of people. There were some personal frustration and a reminder of how pushed by external factors, a wrong approach was adopted to get away. It happened when I used the word, imbecile wrongly in front of people, making me regret the choice of words. As young adults, we often resort to knee jerk reactions. As I look back, there is no way am abandoning my Mom even if I am moving shores and the book has changed my perspective towards relationships. It matters a lot.

 

The poetry and journaling entries penned by Ritu Lalit teaching us a lot about unflinching love a Mom has for a son or daughter. She approaches the issue of blame, overcoming guilt, and self-critic in a sensitive yet unbiased manner.

Emotional chart on the Level of consciousness makes for an interesting assessment on pain or grief for that matter where the author warns about, ‘Low Vibration, Low Vibration, Low Vibration.’ An approach that helps to deal with any form of a relationship breaking up beyond parents and grown-up adults.

Of course, the letters sent to Estranged Parents, meeting an old parents shying away from reality or getting shunt by the adult child on Facebook or Whatsapp, and Moving On almost takes away your identity as a person or the sense of Impending Estrangement offering the distinct ways of seeing things. It whittles down to Psychology and asking questions when it’s the right time or okay cutting down ties with Adult Children.

Apology is an interesting aspect of the book. The author approaches the issue on the Why of a parent apologizing, often pressurized by an extended family or external environment.  Of course, when reconciliation should happen remain the mooted question on avoiding going back to the familiar, old pain and established boundary.   “Am I emotionally ready for reconciliation again?” makes for an interesting take on likely reunion.

The author shares an experience visiting an old age home we call in India, “Vridhashram”, meeting the men and women and the Upper-Class Retirement Home. Both accounts teach a lot on the various aspects of estrangement and loneliness, and bringing to the fore about buying a relationship makes for an insightful approach. She speaks about the trance-like experience coming as vivid at the sound of dhol intersecting with Chakra meditation building a visual image about perhaps cutting the present from the past.

 

Final Words:

 

The book is subjective but at the same time, a brutally honest take on estrangement, particularly from a parent’s perspective. It’s very tough to draw on the low points. There are many first-hand accounts on the breaking point of a relationship and how do we approach them, relying not just on data but also on experiences in dealing with the scars suffered. Ritu Lalit’s “From Son to Stranger”  is honest laying her soul bare and the aspect of vulnerability constitutes the book’s USP.

 

Postscript: The book is a personal account and refrained from pointing at the lows like it is usually the case for my book reviews. Read the book blurb on Goodreads.

 

Click on Amazon to buy the book. Connect with Ritu Lalit on Facebook, Twitter, podcast, and her website.

 

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