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Book Reviews

Discussion in 'Book Lovers' started by Sharada, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    I'm sending in 2 book reviews that I had done for Deccan Herald. Both have different themes and are worth their price. Do read my reviews and if they grab your attention and interest, try and read the books.
    SHARADA

    Title: <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place> 1947

    Author: <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> Mehta

    Publishers: Penguin Books

    Pages: 168

    Price: Rs.200/-only

    Violence in the Valley



    1947 was the year when Hindustan was partitioned; the year when <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region></st1:place> was born. It was a year of political, social and religious turbulence. <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place> became the bone of contention between the two countries. The fight for <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place> resulted in terrorizing the locals, unnecessary bloodshed and mass exodus of refugees. Where there had been communal harmony, troublemakers began spreading wild rumours and creating rifts. This is the backdrop of Krishna Mehta’s heart-wrenching autobiography.

    Her tale of resilience unfolds in a simple and direct manner. Her husband was the District Commissioner of Muzaffarabad in north-west <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place>, near the border. <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> felt unsafe and had a premonition that things would go wrong. But the serene and beautiful surroundings camouflaged the simmering volcano of resentment and violence. The raiders who barged into <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place> had more than territorial acquisition on their agenda. As they advanced, they left behind a trail of blood, many of them women who preferred death to molestation. <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place>’s husband was away when the marauders reached their home. Six children in tow, <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> escaped from the back door to find shelter. She told her daughters, “Don’t let them touch you. Jump down the hill or throw yourself into the river if need be.”

    Over the next few days and nights she and her children moved from one house to another. After a day or two the hosts would ask them to leave for fear of the raiders accusing them of sheltering the enemy. <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> appealed to the sense of duty and inherent goodness in all men and religions. She told Khan who played a major role in ensuring their safety, “This is no way to conquer a country by plundering and molesting its women. You may have another God, but what is intrinsically good is independent of any religion.” Even in captivity <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> did not bow down. In jail she was like a beacon of hope to the other hapless women who cringed with fear. Eventually her captors took it upon themselves to protect her, cutting across religious divides.

    Soon she and her entourage were on the train to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Amritsar</st1:place></st1:City>. <st1:place w:st="on">Krishna</st1:place> sniffed the air of freedom and lived in a refugee camp. After a while she came to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Delhi</st1:place></st1:City> and insisted on meeting Pandit Nehru. With his help and support Krishna established the Gandhi Seva Sadan and Women’s Welfare Centres for the socio-economic development of the disadvantaged women of <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place>. She was nominated to the Lok Sabha as the first woman MP from <st1:place w:st="on">Kashmir</st1:place>. Extensive travel enriched her thoughts, work and writings. She died at the age of 80 – but she gave a new life to so many destitute and displaced women.

    The book is fascinatingly powerful because it is entirely true. There are no factual embellishments or detailed scenic descriptions of leaves floating on the lake; it is a saga of being terrorized, impoverished and desperate for safety. Krishna Mehta is truly a survivor, triumphing against all odds.

    SHARADA PRAHLADRAO







    Title: Corridors of Time

    Author: Vinay Krishnan

    Publishers: Ad Prints and Publishers, <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:place></st1:City>

    Price: Rs.200/-only

    Pages: 192





    Familiar Paths



    The release of this book has been well timed. <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:place></st1:City> is in the spotlight for paradoxical reasons – it is the IT hub but its infrastructure needs drastic improvement. The recent deluge highlighted all the city’s weak points and made us realize that the entire system needs to be overhauled. A city’s expansion has to be planned or else the gardens will be reduced to garbage heaps. It is in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:City></st1:place> of the 70s to the 90s that this charming book is set. There was a sense of déjà vu when I read this book. Perhaps that was because I had walked down the same roads, visited the same theatres and restaurants when I was in college. When the central character Rohan walks down <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Brigade Road</st1:address></st1:Street> or has clandestine meetings with a married woman at Mobos, it seems familiar and plausible.



    Vinay Krishnan, the author describes himself as a ‘complete Bangalorean’. He graduated in Humanities from St.Joseph’s college and began working after doing a diploma in Business Administration. Now he runs a construction firm and is attached to an NGO assisting people with disability. The city of his dreams, <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bangalore</st1:place></st1:City> continues to inspire and exasperate him. His career graph is similar to Rohan’s; a constant struggle, a quest to forge ahead and help others.



    The word “hero” is loaded with connotations of being special, with exemplary qualities, etc. But Rohan is ordinary with a capital O. But his flaws make him more human and one empathises with him. His true character emerges towards the end when he fights for the underdogs and gives shelter to an old, abandoned couple. Walking through the Corridors of Time with idealistic Rohan one realizes how swiftly youth passes and responsibilities weigh one down.



    The book is written in a racy, easy-to-read style. There are no bombastic words or creative phrases; it is like how a typical Bangalorean would express himself, with just a little adjustment!

    SHARADA PRAHLADRAO
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2005
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A Good Service, Sharada!

    What you have started is a noble service to all of us, Sharada. Left to ourselves we might not even know about the publication of these books. Most of us may not go to the extent of buying the books and reading them. But reading your reviews in itself fills some gaps in our education. A good job! Reminds me of a book I purchased a year ago. The title of the book is "100 Books" and it gives a three page summary of the 100 books which shook the world. Like Pluto's history, the Bible, the Gita, the Koran et al.
    You are transferring to us your distilled wisdom which you gained after spending long hours reading the book for review. While you take the sugarcane bite it hard and drink its juice, you have saved us that trouble and give us just the juice.
    good work,
    sridhar
     
  3. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    sugarcane juice!

    Varalotti, the comparisons that you have made are truly flattering! And true to my zodiac sign Leo, I'm purring contentedly!
    If asked to review a book I read it from cover to cover to do justice to the author's effort. Rarely do I trash it - because I know how difficult it is to sit down to write in the first place! Sometimes the language is foul and grammar takes a beating - then I don't have very nice things to say! When the review is positive I get calls from the authors thanking me. Vinay Krishnan (author of Corridors of Time) was very happy with the response he got; Sapna Book House and Higginbothams have put up the review and say that people are reading it and asking for the book.
    Thanks for appreciating the reviews.
    Sharada
     

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