Book Review : Bubble Wrap by Kalyani Rao

“A daring attempt to depict an overwhelmingly evil, male chauvinistic society”

The “Bubble Wrap” is more than anything, the author’s way of coping up with a society that refuses to see women as a living-breathing equivalent of its male counterpart. The praise for the book lies for a daring attempt to depict an overwhelmingly evil, male chauvinistic society. This is the story of Krishna and Gudiya as they try to escape a life that the malevolent society imposed on them. She succeeds in reminding us of the dilapidated society that we unfortunately live in.

As Krishna and Gudiya go through one life-changing event after the other, they come to terms with the misnomer that they thought to be the world around them. The whole of their dreams and mental depiction of reality pop with the ease of a bubble wrap as the truth slowly perforates into them. They realize that all that they have is themselves in this world and realize that most people around them have intentions that are seldom benign. As the plot thickens, the noose around them tightens and they decide to sacrifice everything that they have and own in a desperate attempt to escape the world that is coming down on them fast. They risk it all on this one final plight of theirs.

The daring in Miss Kalyani Rao’s intent is but sadly missed in her narration, which for reasons unknown is unfairly biased against the men in this world. Her depiction of men in her universe caters to the hysteria of a world of unruly evil hearted goons. She forgets to feed the reader with reasons for her characters actions and never hints at the provocations for their malevolence, in this unfortunate world of hers the status quo is that all men are by nature sex-adicts, pedophiles or evil pimps. She forgets to support her characters with stories that reinforce their actions.

The huge gap in narration left by Kalyani makes the world of character that she has created act out of character, many times without rationale. Added to this is the obvious grammatical mistakes left out by her editor. Not to mention the fact that some of the major characters in her story makes but only what can be called a passing cameo, for instance the husband of Krishna who makes himself present for hardly a few lines in a few pages. Afterwards he vanishes forever, never to be spoken off again. So happens to be the case with many characters, they are lost or forgotten in the course of narration.

The most bewildering part of this book was the snapshots of Krishna’s diary sprinkled around the book. I for some reason could gain nothing, nor device the reason for its existence in the book. They neither add to nor deduct form the story, they are just there for the sake of them being there. They have made me wonder why they exist many times, they still do long after I have finished the book.

But that being said the book is not half as bad as my last few paragraphs portrays it to be. The narration is good enough to keep you rooted to the story and keep the page turning without much effort. The twists that the story contains were a pleasant surprise most of the time and the ending was the biggest surprise of all. This book is a good companion for one of the many short journeys of yours. You will be fine as long as you shy away from asking questions.

Book Review : Remember by Karen Kingsbury

“Substitutes Props for characters, End for narration and Quantity over Substance”


Remember by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley is the second book in the Baker Family Chronicle by Karen, which is also called the Redemption series. The truth is, It is more precisely described as a nagging drama of Ashley Baxter and her return to the Baxter fold. The story revolves around the lives of The Baker kids and is set a few years after the previous book (Redemption) left off. The book follows a similar line of thought and narrative as Redemption and mostly revolves around Catholicism and it’s ideals in keeping with the previous book. But with all the respect I have for the Catholicism, this books fails abysmally, it neither succeeds in conveying the relevance nor the necessity of this principles in day-to-day life. The book manages only to show off its characters as depraved and enchanted.
The book is neither a precious piece of literature nor is it interesting to dedicate oneself to. In fact it is one book that you can totally skip without the fear of missing out on anything of value. But the book may come in handy if all you are interested in reading is an uncomplicated story of people whose lives are needlessly complicated, or if you find yourself in a long train ride with no admirable company whatsoever. 
The issue with the book is not the over inducement of Christian teachings in it but the sheer inability of the author to look at her characters as humans with their own lives and stories. She treats most of them as props to guide her protagonists to the predefined destination. She is brutal to her sub cast, she labels them as good and evil without ever bothering to view them as children of circumstances nor does she explains why anybody, even her main characters act the way they do. The book for some reason has defined the end first and the narrative just craves to reach there and in this blind pursuit it loses out on the journey and the characters. 

Remember by Karen Kingsbury is yet another example of why she is called a Christian author, But beyond that she makes no claims and her claims make no fame. She is an author who sadly lost the story for the end. These are but few of the several reasons that made Remember by Karen Kingsbury quickly climb up high on the list of the worst books I read this season. Redemption was by far a few notches better than its successor. 


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The Indian Elections 2014 finale


The Indian election 2014 is unarguably the most sensational and most interesting election to date to have occurred in India. The massive election that involved the participation of almost one eighth of the world population was no less interesting than any show in the world. There are a slew of factors that has made this election as electrifying as it has been, most people are watching this election as they would have watched their favorite football team battle it out in the world cup finals. The elections of 2014 has it’s share of everything that would make it a blockbuster any where any time, be it the stark contrast in personas of the leaders, the fiery salvos being fired at each other, the blow by blow media coverage of the election fiasco and even the angry restless supporters swearing at each other in the various social media sites.
The major reason why the elections are as hyped up as they are now is less because of the candidates and their actions but solely due to the relentless work of India’s free corporate media that has learned the knack of making anything and everything into a sensational marketable item. The more successful candidates were the ones that were able to use and tap into this media frenzy for breaking news and use it to their advantage. The rise of AAP can be attributed to this effective use of media prowess and so can the painstakingly and precisely calculated brand image building by Narendra Modi. They both used the media effectively, one for carried away but that is a discussion for a later time and the incumbent Congress was terrible at media management and that has affected them and now by all predictions they are heading for an unceremonious demise (But there is lot more to that than just that, Congress messed it up big this time).

When media has helped the election and its campaign get covered in a never before way, making this the first election to be televised extensively and where the media dictated fortunes, the leaders of the many parties unwittingly turned this election away from a federal one where party mattered to a presidential one where the individual was the prime focus. Such a successful shift of election style has helped BJP the Indian right wing party greatly and punished the incumbent congress party; this is mainly because of the sharp contrasts in personas of their prime ministerial candidates, where one is strong, opinionated and decisive the other appears clueless, confused and undecided. This contrasting persona has and will affect the election to an election that has been turned into a personality contest in a country whose dreams of being a world super power has been shattered and their ambitions violated. This is what the campaign has all been about, to bring back the nation to the glory days and to enable it to see the dream that appeared to be within grasp half a decade ago.
This election has stood out from the rest on the fact that this must be one of the first elections to have bee selected on the plank of development and a prosperous future alone. When usually elections deteriorate into petty minority politics and divisive strategies to isolate and consolidate various vote banks, where segregation along communal lines are a common strategy to achieve electoral victory, this election has become a stand out. During most of the election the candidates has distanced themselves from theses lines and is mostly seen as a self-destructive strategy to adopt. Though there have been some lone salvos and the some attempts to convert the election to old lines, they have remained mostly unsuccessful with Narendra Modi showing great restrain.
What ever be the result that comes out today, one thing is for sure, it will be historic and fantastic for the future of the nation. A change is in the reckoning and many expect Narendra Modi to deliver on his elaborate and embellished promises. I as all curious Indians out there am currently glued to the television screen, counting seconds before the first numbers to start trickling in. After all the speculation, anticipation and projections there is no substitute for the real thing. See  you on the other side.

The Nature of Stories

The thing about stories are that they give you a world of your dreams in which you can live and do the impossible things that you wish you could do. They give you a freedom and your imagination a free reign. You take to your heart your favorite characters, and slowly and secretly you live their lives as if their life was inseparable from yours, as if they were but one. You feel their anguish and their happiness, you cry with them and you laugh with them. Their emotions are your emotions, their success yours, their failures your failures. That is why we love them, we embrace them and we crave them.  That is we are hurt when they are hurt and that is why we flood our eyes when their heart is laden.
Have we not all begged in agony when we knew that our hero was walking into a trap, have we not consoled our hero when he blamed himself for the sad demise of his trusted companion, have we not sneered and cursed the villain who tortured our hero’s beloved. Is it the hero that makes him so amiable to us, is the story that drags us towards it and them submerges us in its intoxicating world or is it ultimately us the reader who has taken upon his heart the courage to lose himself and decide to adore and love the story and its hero. Somehow the story, the hero and the author are immaterial to the reader.
The reader weaves his own story every time, he makes his own castles and give his heroes the face of his creation. He crafts the enchanted forest and despicable moors.  The story of any story is the creativity and imagination of the reader not the creativity and the imagination of the author. It’s the reader who weaves the story and who gives it a life force that is capable of animating the whole world and it’s ultimately the reader who breathes life into the story and makes it come alive. It is the reader who fathers the story, the author is but a guide who lightly guides him through the altogether unfamiliar world the reader has conjured up. That is why a truly great story is one that is open for interpretation in as many ways as there are fertile minds there in the world.

Book Review : Redemption by Karen Kingsbury

“The perfect travel companion, blissfully light and engaging”.

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury is the first in the Redemption series, A trilogy revolving around the Baxter family, a highly religious and orthodox family living in Bloomington, Indiana. Redemption, the first book in the series redemption revolves around Kari Baxter. When Kari Baxter finds out that her husband, Tim Jacobs a college professor who is having an illicit affair with his understudy, her whole world falls apart. She is further devastated when he asks for a divorce. The much distraught Kari takes to religion and its echelons to save her and her marriage from this crisis.

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Redemption is the story of betrayal and as the name of the book gives away ‘redemption’, Karen reiterates that the troubles of Kari are not enough reason to throw away a otherwise perfect marriage away and that marriage like all relationships require care and effort. Redemption is by far Karen’s effort to convince the reader that even perceivably devastating betrayals in marriage can also be forgiven and a that a stronger marriage can at times be redeemed from these ashes.
Karen builds up a fairly elaborate family, each member with their own problem and in midst of her narrative she occasionally takes a detour to ramp the reader up on the background stories of the rest of the Baxter. Even then she forgets many main characters and fails to build them up, unfortunately they just remains as names and references. The most unforgivable of those is the story of Angela, Tim’s lover. Even though she is central to the story she is conveniently forgotten. The story and its over reliance on religion and not on reason and the fact that the very story that is central to the book, the story of how the reconstructs their broken marriage is ill developed and leaves gapping holes and enormous in-continuity in the narration.
Otherwise the 360 odd page page-turner is a fairly light read, its one book that could keep you company during a short journey and would provide you with reasonable amount of entertainment. It however doesn’t reach up-to the authors reputation of being an inspirational masterpiece.

Available at : Amazon.in
  In association with :

The Abyss

This is difficult to write about, the words that once gave my ideas and I life are no longer there, they have deserted me. They have deserted me in this abominable hell. How I can ever get myself to tell aloud how I feel is beyond me. There is a gaping hole at the way center of my existence, a mammoth all consuming nagging hole. It fills me with anguish to tell that I myself do not understand it very well, not from the lack of trying though. I have had driven myself insane just to find what and why of it. But the ominous feeling of its presence just fill me, it suffocates and strangles me. The dark black abyss that fills me.
It seems to me that I must have ran into a midlife crisis at the age of twenty something that’s the only conclusion I can come up with. The fact of the matter is that I feel stagnation all around me, a lurking feeling that takes over in times of quiet contemplation. The reason for the stagnation itself is a lien to me my logical mind has verified debated and crossed off most of the things that I thought would be the reason. Somewhere deep down I know that reason but it eludes me like a ghastly shadow. 
Who can I turn to in times of such peril? No one will understand me; no one will care to listen. None can get themselves to the placed in my shoes and none can stand where I stand and stare into the blinding darkness of that the abyss that I state into. No one can hold my hand and no one can stand silently by my side as I unravel the secret of this deep disturbance of my inner equilibrium. I have many good friends but none of them posses neither the deep wisdom nor the complexity of thought to save my soul. They are normal material human beings of this plastic world, neither religious visionaries nor spiritual leaders whose vision spans the while of this cosmos. Maybe that is what I see, a spiritual awakening, a spiritual guidance. I do not know yet but the puzzle must most certainly be solved.
Or maybe it’s just nothing, maybe it’s something or maybe I’m just bored with it all. Mind you that also does haunt me. I promise myself many a things and many of them are still in pending maybe all I need is a nice, quiet vacation and put some distance between me and my existence, just magically transported to another world, to an escape from my monotonous reality. May be that’s all I need.

The Bad Touch by Payal Shah Karwa

Child sexual abuse as a serious topic is seldom talked about in the coffee tables of present day society. Lately there has been a conscious effort to bring about a change in this very aspect of society. To bring to these tables of open discussion the topics and taboos that have been destroying many a lives in silence so far. The book The Bad Touch by Payal Shah Karwa is yet another significant stride in bringing about this much awaited and much delayed change in our society. The author attempts to being this topic to the public eyes as subtly as possible.
Filled with staggering and astonishing facts and numbers that question your very understanding of the world around you, fails miserably in keeping it subtle, irrespective of the authors best intentions and her best efforts towards that very goal. The books ends up spewing the facts about this venomous misfortunes that fall on more than half the country’s juvenile population. Payal Shah Karwa through several examples and life stories of several influential people and the many astonishing survivors of child sexual abuse and there struggle attempts to bust the myths surrounding this evil. 
Understandably the greatest danger to the children of this great nation is the crimes committed against then when they are incapable of understanding it or are too weak to resist such advances. The stories are gruesome, as vulgar and repulsive as the society instills it is yet they happen every day every hour. The books goes on to help people prevent it and lists steps to ensure that the the child is provided with an environment conducive to detect such avails at it’s infancy and mediate it effectively. Her stories through its characters strive in inculcate the ability to survive the tragedy and aims to provide a conducive atmosphere to do so.
I recommend this book as an essential read to any parents thinking of bringing an unsuspecting child into this vile world. The book facilitates easy understanding and that is key to mitigate such happenings and it’s effective countering. Then again this book is not for the faint of heart who would prefer to live through this world by turning a blind eye towards its stark realities.
Author Connects @ Pages off Life
In association with Payal Shah Karwa. 

The Mark of Democracy

Just voted for a new government in India. I hope this time its a charm.
They could have put the ink more beautifully, but its not how it looks but what it means that matter.

Photographing The President

The President being photographed is not any president but a 3500 year old one. The President tree is the giant sequoia located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, California. It is not the tallest giant sequoia tree in the world (75 m), but it is the third largest tree in the world.  
The tree until now had never been photographed completely. A team of photographers from National Geographic and scientists from the Sequoia National Park to be the first to accomplish that feat. if you look carefully you can see the tiny scientists among the branches and leafs of the giant tree. I myself could find four of them, you are welcome to find more if you can.
Courtesy : National Geographic Society

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

From The Life of William Grimes to the slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, slavery in fiction and reality is not something thats easily digestible to the modern man, it makes him flinch with disgust and the details churns his stomach in ways detestable. 12 Years a slave is the autobiography of a freeman, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery and redeemed 12 years later. Solomon Northrup lived in a time of great turmoil (which eventually culminated in the American Civil War) when the american consciousness was torn between freedom and slavery, with the southern states supporting strongly the institution of slavery and the northern states strongly condemning the devilish practice. What happened of it is a matter of history and of little importance to the book.
Solomon Northup was born to a freeman and spent his childhood working in his fathers farm, later he went on to move to Minerva after his marriage. The rest of the particulars of his life again is academic in nature now. He was a carpenter by profession, an educated, trained and unsuspecting man, who was lured by two strangers with the promise of a more rewarding job and then sold into slavery in the slave pens of New Orleans. The one thing that differentiated this man from the rest of the slaves around him was the fact that he knew what freedom meant, a fact that he had to conceal cleverly due to the fear of punishment and torture.
Solomon’s narrative of his on experience as a slave is mostly objective but it brims with a feeling of distance towards the whole of life. His need or desire to be as much away from the most torturous 12 years of his life is easily reflected in his writing. Its neither flowery nor flaunting oratory of any nature, just an observation of what he had to endure and how he did so. His account of life he saw happen around hims and what it meant to him. The most wonderful thing about Solomon’s narrative is that he didn’t demonize the villains in his story, they were definitely villains but he reserved crude judgements to a very appreciable degree. 
The book ’12 years a slave’ by Solomon Northup is a good old slave narrative that objectively illustrates the life of a slave and his livelihood through the eyes of a freeman that he was. The book offers a clear perspective into the working of the institution of slavery and explains why the masters behaved as they did and for what end. Solomon explains that not all his masters were cruel and each had his own on way getting what they wanted form his slaves, from treated them a little as men and others terrified them. some gave them little comforts and rewards others gave them nothing and kept them that way.
Buy your copy at Amazon.in 

In association with ‘Pirates’ A Publishing House.