Monday, 22 September 2014


The Blurb
Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things: 

What is The Helpline? 
Who is Rachael? 
What is Samir’s own identity? 

Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world. This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.

My review:

Life overwhelms us. It does not make any distinctions. So, it is quiet natural to see the young (why just the young, even the adults) make the wrong choices and suffer the consequences. It is easy to let go, to go with the flow and let life take its own course and be comfortably numb. But the strength lies in fighting the current and swimming against it. To snatch the reins of your life and steer it the way you want it to be, to come back from the brink and make your dreams come true. That is what Samir's story is all about.

We have that one person in our life who makes a huge impact on us. When young, it can be our grandparents, parents, any other family member or even our school teachers. Nana is that pillar of strength to Samir. With his demise, Samir loses a confidant and a guide. In the absence of Nana and the presence of an overbearing father, Samir's life spirals down when he is not able to cope with the expectations of his dad.

But he does have friends in form of Rajesh and Neha who believe in him and encourage him to pursue his dream. Then there is Riya, the love of his life. Everything is going on smoothly for him until Riya tells him of her decision to go abroad. Then the cruel twist of fate which Samir holds himself responsible for....the reason for him to turn to weed and alcohol and eventually become suicidal.

It is easy to relate to the struggles of this young man. While he feels suffocated studying engineering, he cannot douse the spark of his passion for writing. Like all the kids who want to please their parents, Samir too wants to impress his dad but fails miserably. His finds encouragement and inspiration in the form of his friends who stand by him.

"You can be anything you want to be" - this is so true. Samir realizes the weight of this sentence said by his Nana, when in the hospital and decides to get back his life on track.

What I liked:

The author has included so many topics in the story...a bit of politics, art, literature, the life of the mentally challenged people, and also that we should not judge a person by his looks.

I liked the three short stories within this story and they did have a moral. Then there is the interpretation of art which is also a mirror to the emotions of the painter.  The romance between Samir and Riya is innocent and I liked the way he proposes to Riya...through spine poetry...quiet innovative I must say.

I also liked the monologue of Rajesh about the "Indian Parents", though it was stretched a bit more than necessary, they are so true. It is the crux of Samir's relationship with his dad.

I liked the little pieces of gyaan about love, change, relationships, compatibility and passion which made this story more real.

The editing is flawed with a lot of grammatical errors which is an eyesore in an otherwise seamlessly woven story.

Meet the Author

Uday Mane was born in Pune and raised in Mumbai. He works as a marketing professional during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books. 

The Helpline is his debut novel that was launched in March 2014 at the hands of Padma Shri Paresh Rawal.

You can stalk him @

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Thursday, 18 September 2014


Rapid Fall

by Adiana Ray

The Blurb
  Sonia and JD’s tempestuous attraction is as stormy as the rapids at Rishikesh. Not even a dip in icy waters can douse the sparks that fly when they are around each other.

JD’s recent divorce, however, has left him commitment phobic and bitter, and he doesn’t seem to want more than a physical relationship. At heart, Sonia is conservative; can she bring herself to accept a modern ‘live-in’ relationship, or will she push him away with her demands for a commitment?

My Review:
The opening chapters make a great read as I love adventure and adventure sports. The 'rapids' which the author describes set my adrenaline soaring. The setting was great for some really good romance. But it was too short lived for my taste only to pick up pace in the big city of Mumbai.

JD's character has been given prominence, his phobia, his uncertainties and his fears regarding his relationships are well sketched making him more humane, prone to make mistakes without a thought.

Sonia is the girl next door who is the beauty with brains and long legs too. Love is blind and being intelligent doesn't stop you from falling in love, does it? She hates being lied to and that's how she ends up heartbroken.

The supporting characters of Monica, Reena, Navin and Rakesh are given as much importance as needed without needlessly exaggerating their roles.

What I did not like:
When a person realizes he is in love, he will hardly wait. In this age of instant gratification waiting for a person to make a move for 6 months is a bit far fetched. JD doesn't seem like a person who would wait for 6 months. And for Sonia, who took the effort to stay away from JD accepts his explanation instantly and reconciles with him.

A typical light romantic read with the roller coaster ride of emotions similar to  the 'rapids.' A well researched sport.  I would have liked a bit more romance than conflict.

Buy @

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Meet the Author

The Author's Thoughts

'Sixteen and counting' are the number of cities that I have lived in so far. I like to think of myself as a 'Metronaut'. The myriad city cultures, the food, the hustle and bustle, the people are all elements of life that I thrive on and if you can have an 'Astronaut' why not a 'Metronaut' after all there are so many more of us out there?
I believe in the Zen tenet that every situation has a 1000 truths. It helps me write and it definitely helps when I am dealing with my two children. I like reading, I like cooking, I like travelling and I love sitting like a mindless zombie in front of the TV and if anybody says anything to that....Aha! a 1000 truths come in very handy.
I also write under a pen name M.X Steele. Why? My daughter thought Adiana Ray was too boring a name.
I do hope you enjoy reading all my work because I believe passionately that though we writers love pontificating and are totally in love with whatever we write; at the end of it all it is the readers that matter and above all what we write has to be 'entertaining'.

You can stalk her @

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014


By: Saba Mahmood Bashir
ISBN: 9789351160748
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers India
Format: Demy/Paper Back
Extent: 272  pages


Saba Mahmood Bashir is a freelance editor based in Delhi. She is a gold medallist in MA, English Literature from Allahabad University and has completed her PhD from IIT Delhi. Her first book, Memory-Past, a collection of poems, was published by Writers Workshop in 2006.

Her latest book is I Swallowed the Moon: The poetry of Gulzar (HarperCollins India, 2013). The book focuses on the poetry of Hindi film lyricist and poet Gulzar, placing him as a Progressive Poet in Popular Culture.


Gulzar is arguably the most well-known contemporary poet writing in Hindustani. As a poet he occupies a unique place being a Progressive poet in a popular culture. His poetry appeals to all strata of society, without compromising either on literary merit or on its ability to convey the most exalted thought in an accessible idiom. In ‘He Swallowed the Moon’, Saba Bashir attempts to analyse what makes Gulzar the poet he is. What is his signature style? What are the issues that concern his poetry and what are the recurrent images in it? She also draws a parallel between the poet’s film and non-film poetry and points out how they are used interchangeably. Including the most comprehensive list of all Gulzar’s poems, film and non-film songs, this is a valuable addition to the corpus of work on a great poet.


Pavan Varma has translated two volumes of Gulzar's poetry collections. In his words - Gulzar's poetry is studded with the kind of imagery that leaves the reader almost breathless. Two images are juxtaposed in such a manner that when the meaning suddenly falls into place, the reaction is near explosive. The power of this imagery, literally leaping at you from the lyricism of his composition, has few parallels. The range of his poetry is astonishing. His literary dexterity is surprising. Poetry for him is a perennial linguistic discovery, a never ceasing challenge of structure and message. He has spent a lifetime crafting words and imbuing them with meaning and beauty.

The author has taken us through the Historical journey of the use of Urdu, Hindi and Hindustani language in Gulzar's poetry. The poets and people who influenced him the most have found honorable mention. His association and the influence of the Progressive Writers' Association has also been traced.
She mentions that Gulzar has an interesting take on the development of Hindustani, which he says is not only a combination of Hindi and Urdu but is the local language of any part of the country.

THE IMAGERY of Gulzar's poetry: He uses unusual images and juxtaposes them to great effect. The author says - While traditional poets criticize him for his style of juxtapositioning  and using of oxymorons, many others contend that this makes his work diverse and distinct.

There are 3 sets of images that recur in Gulzar's poems: The moon, the sun and the tussle between them; the various aspects of water and its manifestations; and the image of the eyes.

"He himself claims laughingly that he has the copyright over the moon."

Moon is the metaphor, a catalyst too.

ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE AND FORM - In Gulzar's words, "I have used English to communicate the message. The aim of translation is to communicate. If the message is conveyed , it means the language is fine. He also points out that one has to modify language if there is a desire to change with the times, lest one becomes an antique piece that no one wants to buy. He adds that what is important is how meticulous one is in expressing onesel, that what one communicates should not appear like patchwork. To write as per today's norms and the new values is a challenge. There definitely is a change in vocabulary, a change of expression.

TRIVENI - The three-line form of poetry that Gulzar experiments with is unlike the other three-line form of poetry in Urdu, English or other languages. It is characterized by a hidden meaning. Triveni, the confluence of Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati, where Saraswati is the mythical hidden river.
"Triveni is neither musallas nor haiku nor verse said in three lines. In these three forms, there is a kind of continuity between the idea and the image. But the temperament of Triveni is different. At times, the third line enhances the meaning of the first two and at other times, it is a comment on them," says Gulzar.

His poetry is the product of the beautiful marriage between folk and classical music says, Ranade.

THE THEMES of Gulzar's poems encompass the world and beyond. Love, relationship, social concerns, nature, children and his seventeen movies he directed which portrays strong women characters with an identity of their own.

The book is a treasure trove of information and it is difficult even to choose the excerpts or examples of his poems to cite here.

MY VERDICT - If you like Gulzar, then this is a very delightful read as this goes beyond his poetry.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Sometimes you have to lose yourself to discover who you are....

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (August 19, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101874082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101874080
Behind the book:
A woman in her thirties begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody's eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage, children, and a career. Yet what she feels is an enormous sense of dissatisfaction. All that changes when she encounters a successful politician who had, years earlier, been her high school boyfriend. As she rediscovers the passion missing from her life, she will face a life-altering choice.

My thoughts:
This man elicits such profound emotions with his simple words which make you think and rethink all the notions we have assimilated, sometimes shattering them much to our discomfort.
I have not liked all the books I have read written by Paulo Coelho.  Some, I have liked in totality, some in parts, some I have been disappointed. Yet, it cannot be denied that this man imparts practicality and wisdom. His words jumps out and shakes you up. Whatever he says is nothing new, it is a knowledge we all possess and have lived, these are what we fail to acknowledged lest it bursts the bubble we have created around us.

It is also commendable that most of the protagonists of his stories are women.  When most of the world keeps on grappling about how it is difficult to understand women, this man not only writes about them, but he speaks and feels like a woman...dissecting every emotion, every thought and feeling with surgical precision.

This story is about the Linda, a perfect wife, a perfect mother who has everything in life. Yet, she feels stuck in the situation. Life is one big routine with nothing new happening. She confuses boredom with depression. She wants to live her life, make it more zestful and for this she is prepared to take risks.

For this want of adventure, she makes some mistakes. An attraction that turns into obsession which makes her think like Frankenstein. It is about how she enjoys her dual life knowing very well that it will not lead anywhere. Still, she is prepared to lose everything for it.  Does she lose everything she has, her marriage, her husband who stands by her no matter what and her innocent kids?

The author has explored the duality of our nature...the monster or the dark side which essentially resides in us and which takes over when we are vulnerable. But, how far we let the monster control us is the question?

Here are some excerpts from the novel which I liked -

"I am replacing my missing joy with something more concrete- a man - but that's not the point. This didn't begin with Jacob's appearance on the scene, and it won't end with his departure." This is when Linda is convinced that she might be suffering from depression.
"And I realize that my unconscious is transforming an imaginary problem into a real one. That's what always happens. That's how illness come about."

You don't choose your life; it choose you. There's no point asking why life has reserved certain joys and griefs, you just accept them and carry on. We can't choose our lives, but we can decide what to do with the joys and griefs we are given.

There's no better time than the autumn to begin forgetting the things that trouble us, allowing them to fall away like dried leaves.

A lot of people say time heals all wounds, but that isn't true. Apparently, time heals only the good things that we wish to hold on to forever. 

Everything we seek so enthusiastically before we reach adulthood - love, work, faith - turns into a burden too heavy to bear. This is only one way to escape this: love. To love is to transform slavery into freedom. 

We're always practicing self-control, trying to keep the monster from coming out of his hiding place.

Whoever says "love is enough" is lying. It isn't and it never has been. 

Dreaming isn't as simple as it seems. On the contrary, it can be quite dangerous. When we dream, we put powerful engines in motion and can no longer hide the true meaning of our life from ourselves. When we dream, we also make a choice of what price to pay.

The human brain is fascinating; we will forget a scent until we smell it again, we will erase a voice from our memory until we hear it again, and even emotions that seemed buried forever will be awakened when we return to the same place.

I cannot rate or give an verdict on this book.  I liked this book in totality. Having said that, I would have expected a bit more depth with the supporting characters.

Read Paulo Coelho's interview about this novel here.