The Shrine of Death: Review

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Indian mythology is an amazing subject to explore. India has so rich history of temples, shrines, hidden gems, folklore that leaves me amazed. After success of Amish’s trilogy lot of authors have started using it as a shortcut to success. Everyone was just writing Ramyan not Ramayana or Mahabharat again not Mahanbharata in short manner or was giving an alternative take to it. In such time, Divya’s book The Shrine of Death came as breath of fresh air.

First thing things first. The cover is very catchy. It makes you wanna pick up the book. 332 pages of the book waste no time in thank you notes and dedications. Now the book, severely impressed by the writing style of Divya. You don’t feel as if you are reading a first timer. The style of writing is greatly influenced by the west and yet words are not Tharoorised.  She has done her research well. Though this book has an element of mythology, it is a thriller and revolves entirely around protagonists. There are hardly any characters in the book who aren’t relevant. A few moments here and there too could be cut out. But hey, they still keep you intrigued

The Shrine of death is a story of a girl Sneha who goes missing while doing her PhD about ancient idols and 10th century kingdom. Her friend Prabha, an IT professional who believes in 9 to 5 office job always finds herself a misfit in the family of  anthropologist father, alternate medicine practitioner mother & death metal band member brother. She prefers the life of stability, financial security and simplicity. Something her family describes as boring. Prabha‘s life change when she receives a call form her friend Sneha just a day before she goes missing. With have left job and for the sake of their friend, Prabha decides to go looking for her friend. The one from whom she walked away years back as a punishment of hurting her family.

Along the path, she meets one Jai Vadhera a colleague of Sneha who has a very odd vibe and strange behavior. Her search for her friend leads her to places she would have never gone otherwise. In the journey she ends up putting her own and her friends’ live in danger. She finds the love of her life. She discovers that life is much more than financial security and coding. The journey gives a new edge to her life.

My review, 4.5 on 5. Kudos to Bloomsbury and Divya.

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Teenage Diaries :- Review

Cover

Teenage is a very wonderful yet a very much confusing period of life. You step out of child zone and have to spend good five years of adolescent before you get labeled as an adult. When I was growing up, I wanted to be the centre of attraction. I wanted to be liked, feared and awed by people. When you are from a Gujarati middle class family, you are at the epitome of what seems to stereotype to others but a part of your life.

When I felt that I had left my teenage behind and was living a full on adult life, someone reminded me of that phase again. I stumbled upon a wonderful book by the name Teenage Diaries by Saurabh Sharma. Set in the pretext of Baroda of Gujarat, this book is a story about a guy by the name Ghanshyam. Yes, middle class guy with middle class name. The story starts with birth and rapidly takes you teenage. The pace slows down there. And it is necessary. Some places I felt I was sitting there witnessing things happening in front of my eyes, thanks to a good narration. A thing I love about fiction I that it takes you to a superficial world and gives you an opportunity to live with that character or even be that character.

Anyway, coming back to the book, story has more than one turning point. Right from an under-confident Ghanshyam falling for a girl to receiving reciprocation and then pushed away by the same girl for reasons best known to her, it keeps your interest glued to the book. Second turning point comes when Ghanshaym tops the boards and meets new friends who go on to become his lifeline and create a GK out of Ghanshyam. Incidents that change his life completely and dramatically are narrated very well.

The book speaks of teenage romance, infatuations, adrenaline rush, forbidden fantasies coming true and a lot more things. I wish I had such a life; or at least a part of it. Saurabh has omitted unnecessary detailing wherever possible. Language kept is very simple. It strikes every chord right. I really liked the way book ends with a subtle to be continued hint.

A fresh perspective in Indian fiction genre where endless people are writing only about college life, breakups, hookups, flings and meaningless sex.  Very good attempt for first time author.

Tale of the new city 

So it’s been a few weeks since I’ve moved to Bangalore. Slowly and steadily I’m getting a hang of the city. I’m getting used to the coffees and masala less chai(well, sort of). I’ve accepted Idli as staple breakfast till I’m here. After taking nemorous rides by uber and ola and waking around  few miles, lay Sunday I decided to the unthinkable. I took the public transport!!!!. Yes, in a city where you can’t pronounce names of the areas and don’t understand a word of language of the natives, it’s quite a courageous step.😊 These journey had totally three unrelated experiences.

Mine was a transit journey. While the bus was sluggishly crawling into a Sunday traffic of this great metropolitan full of concrete jungle, one thing caught my attention. Amidst the highrise buildings and never ending housing socities, there was a small, small ground. The ground where kids were playing soccer in a little drizzle. Must have been not older than 15 any. They looked like the kids from the workers of a construction site nearby. They might have worked way too hard to want that Sunday play. They​ struggle everyday for survival, but at that moment, they were happy. They were living that moment. 

This got me thinking. Most of us work Monday to Saturday just so that we can pay the bills. Bills are very important but as well is living. Materialistic happiness attracts us more. Once we achieve that material we run behind other and the cycle never ends. Happiness for us is getting limited to achieve tengible things. I don’t see many people now going out , dancing their heart out to the rains. A friend recently shared a message saying “don’t get so busy making a living that you forgot to live.” 

My thoughts were put to a halt when the driver pulled the breaks. A man boarded the bus. Looking at him immediately made me smile. A 70 year old Sardarji. He sat next to me and immediately hit the conversation. “I’m an ex-army. I was happily living my retired life in Chandigarh. My son is settled in the US, daughter married and settled in Bangalore. Two years back we migrated here so that we could stay close to her. But, ‘pind di gal na hai’.” He spoke about how folks in Chandigarh met daily in parks to discuss any topic they liked and how it was not the same here, but he stayed for his kids. He was delighted when he learnt I stayed in Goa for 16 years. The place is special cause his kids were born there and also how there was no restrictions in past.

I was seeing life from the eyes of a 70 year old retired army officer , who also was a father and a husband and a family man. He wasn’t very happy may be about having to spend retired life in an unknown city away from home, but he made that sacrifice for his kid’s happiness. Our parents live their lives for their parents in their youth and for their kids when they grow old. If I can be even if one tenth of my parents, I’d be happy. It was time to bid goodbye to Sardarji.

And third and final thing, it’s just a myth that bechalors live a messy life. Even spinsters can be equally messy. 😂

​Palace of Assassins

I usually don’t read mythology on a regular basis, for if it’s not written in a catchy manner, can ruin your reading experience. The best I’ve read so far is Shiva Trilogy. Aditya Iyenger in Palace of Assassins has made a good attempt to narrate. The book comes nowhere close to that of Amish but worth your time.

We are usually told tales of happy ending of those who win. As a child, Mahabharata on TV ended with Pandavas winning the war. What about the ones who lost? The ones who were left alive and yet far from living. Book sheds life on one such character from the great saga of Mahabharata, the great Ashwathamma. Story starts where the war ends. Author takes you to a timeline of a man who has lost everything, tries killing self after the war but is horrified when he realizes he is immortal and a leper. He’s saved, nursed and taken care of by someone he doesn’t know and expects nothing in return. He eventually falls in love with her and is ready to kill more people for her. However his instincts don’t allow him anymore killings. He turns against people he collaborated with, who had kidnapped his lover. Many portions of the books make you introspect. I was left wondering about so many things about me. Author lets your imagination work rather than giving it all out to you.

Aditya has made a brave attempt at telling the story of a misunderstood antagonist. He also has made perfect blend of mythology and history. However, does not match the description at the Back cover. Title also did not stand the story. It ends giving you a clear indication of a sequel. 

Generation Us : RICH & Unhappy

We have actually forgotten what happiness feel likes, in a mad run trying to pursue it.

-Parixitanand

As a child, my holidays comprised of cousins coming over with us playing in house games during afternoons and physical games in the evening. Parents took us for a picnic once or twice during the whole vacation as and when they could manage time. Life was simple back then. We played card games, hide& seek, marbles, lagorio, kho and lot other games which kids today might not even have heard of. When confined to house, nintendo games were our entertainment, or simply stories from grandparents. Making paper boats , running races and so many other activities that did not involve anything but us. We were hap hap happy smiling faces. Happiness back than was not quantifiable.

Fast forward to 2016 where we are 2o something. World is a revolutionary place right now. Landlines are replaced by smartphones. Not just one but gazillions of them right out in the market at your disposal. You just have to log in to some e-commerce app on your cellphone and boom, it will do all work for you. You don’t even have to step out of your house to buy one for there is home delivery.   We are always connected to our friends via Social media sites. We know what our favorite celebs are up to. We earn 5 figure salaries. World class cuisine available in many places across the country. Fashion brands are flocking their way to our nation because we are able to afford them. Name a brand and we have it in any vertical you say. We go watch release of international movies. Some of us also are fortunate enough to have international vacations. All this and still we are not happy.

I wondered about this over days and weeks and realized why we are not happy. We see our colleague’s post on social media about dining at a fancy restaurant, we hit a like and make a mental note to go at a more expensive restaurant. And upload pictures. We buy high end vehicles on backbreaking EMIs to feel happy.  We buy first copies and we flaunt it as originals. We shell out a fortune to buy latest phones trying to satisfy our own ego.  We envy Sharmaji ka beta who is now a startup guy whose startup got funded in millions, failed and now he’s a key note speaker about failed startups. We feel we are better deserving than him. Our friend’s promotion in their office makes us furious.

And why do we do that? Cause somewhere in our mind, we have started quantifying the happiness with materialistic possession. We no more get happiness out of what we do. We get it out of how much other applaud us for it or latest gadgets, brands we have. Our hunger is now endless. We want to wear best brands, use latest phones, go to fancy hotels and update all this on social media. Having people liking us and our world made of fake gives us ego boost. We feel its happiness. It is NOT. It was never. What is latest today will become outdates tomorrow. Bubbles and hypes of today will burst in time. How long are we gonna keep doing this? This is not going to survive forever. Nor are we. We gotta STOP.

Happiness should not be based on what you possess. It should not be based on anything for that fact of matter. Have you seen your pet wagging their tail at you when you come back from work? That is happiness. Selfless happiness. Have you noticed ever, kids will always laugh when you catch them behind curtain playing hide and seek? They will be happy. Go out and see sun rising, birds singing, tress dancing. Wind flowing … All these are nature’s way to show its happiness. It looks so beautiful. Feel it. Don’t find happiness outside. It lies within you. Do any one thing that you like to do apart from your routine. It can be as simple as taking a walk. Anything you like; dancing, bathroom singing, gardening. You’ll be surprised to see how happy you feel.  Next time you see some kids on a street, get them candies. Trust me their smiles will fill your heart with joy.

If you wake up every day under roof, are able to afford meal, have water drink and have clothes to hide your nakedness, be happy. Be grateful. You are richer than 80% people on this globe. Learn this and you’ll survive and win toughest battles of life.

The pursuit of happiness starts within.