Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Shining - Stephen King



Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a 'shiner', aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel - and that too had begun to shine...


Thoughts:

Stephen King

If ever there was one book that made me fear the dark and made my spine tingle with dread, this is it. This book was my third Stephen King novel and his first two books that I read had not gone down well with me. I read Dreamcatcher and Misery before this book and I understood that I have not read the best of Stephen King yet. Amidst this background, The Shining came as a great surprise loaded with horror and terror that can inflict fear on the bravest of hearts.

In his previous two books, I felt Stephen King was beating around the bush a little as he was taking loads of time to get to the main event. I felt that problem resurfacing in this book in the beginning. I still feel Jack's history of alcohol abuse was a little off track to the main plot. However, once the reader toils through a handful of pages and finds the Torrance family locked up in The Overlook for the winter, the action begins and there is not let up in the intensity and the pace from then on.

I'm still amazed how an author can bring fear to the minds of people just by "words". He doesn't get to use visual effects; he doesn't get to use sound effects; he doesn't get to use 'Jump Scare' techniques. All the author has at his disposal are "WORDS". And yet, I must say, the words from the pen of Stephen King has managed to surpass all techniques that a traditional horror movie director employs to scare his/her audience. Perhaps, that is why, the film adaptation of this novel The Shing (Movie) directed by Stanley Kubrick did not impress me as much as the novel did. There are some people who say the movie is better than the book, but I firmly differ from their opinion.

The characters are all well-developed. The Overlook, the haunted hotel is itself a terrific character with a mysterious and horrific past.

The Overlook Hotel(as shown in the movie)


Joey Tribbiani tells what is so great about The Shining
I personally liked Wendy, who struggles to save her son from his father who has fallen into the clutches of the haunted hotel and is slowly going insane. Dick Halloran is another character who leaves a mark in the reader's minds after the book is completed. I liked the fact that there are so few characters so that the reader is not burdened with too much clutter that are not essential to the central plot. King means business in this book.

Remember Joey Tribbiani in Friends, hiding The Shining in the freezer? Well, that is one way to avoid the Overlook haunting you.

Quotes

"Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters."
"Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win." 
"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in." 

If you want to be scared out of our wits, this is one book you must never miss. The Overlook is waiting for you! 

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry


With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.

The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

My Thoughts:

This is one book that is bound to leave a lot of readers teary-eyed. Though Rohinton, the author claims this work to be fiction, I wonder if this story was made up. You can still see thousands and thousands of Ishvars and Oms in every nook and corner of India. The book has everything that is impending the nation's development. It speaks about the deep rooted caste system and class differences. It speaks about blind urbanization and the resulting loss of nature and it's resources. It speaks about corruption. It speaks about politics. It speaks about population expansion. It even speaks about feminism. In general, this book IS India for you!

The story is about four  people who are forced to live together in a major city due to various circumstances. Ishvar and Om are untouchable cobblers turned tailors who have come to the city in search of a living. Dina Dalal, a middle aged widow hires them to work for a major Export company. She also rents one of her rooms in her apartment to her friend's son, Maneck, who has come unwillingly to the city from his home in the hills to pursue his education. Thus begins the extraordinary story of the four people and how life takes them on a harsh journey spanning poverty, illness, hunger, injustice, cruelty, prejudice, depression and misfortunes.

The story is grim - there is no getting around that fact. There is no happy ending. But everything is real. I wonder why this book did not win the Booker prize though it was shortlisted. This book is a gem. More people need to read this book. It helps to understand the ground reality prevailing in the country and also opens their eyes against their prejudices. The author has a knack of making a 600 odd page book feel like a breeze while you read. The author does not frustrate the readers by indulging in unnecessary narration or description, nor does he use complex words that render a dictionary indispensable. Instead he relies on his sharp wit and to-the-point narration to create a vivid picture and keep the readers glued to the book.

A MUST-READ book for everyone!


Golden Quotes:

"The human face has limited space. If you fill it with laughter there will be no room for crying."
"But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be recreated - not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain."
"After all, our lives are but a sequence of accidents - a clanking chain of chance events. A string of choices, casual or deliberate, which add up to that one big calamity we call life." 

About the Author:

Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is considered to be one of the foremost authors of Indian heritage writing in English. Residing in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Mistry belongs to the Parsi Zoroastrian religious minority.

Mistry’s first novel, Such a Long Journey (1991), brought him national and international recognition. Mistry’s subsequent novels have achieved the same level of recognition as his first. His second novel, A Fine Balance (1995), concerns four people from Bombay who struggle with family and work against the backdrop of the political unrest in India during the mid-1970s. The book won Canada’s Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. It was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Booker Prize.(Source: Goodreads)

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Rise of Social Media - Keyboard Warriors and the Online Activists

          Ever since the advent of social media, the lifestyle of common man has changed drastically. Each and every one of us has become a judge. We sit comfortably in our offices and pass judgments on people whom we have never even met. When every man has an outlet to express his feelings and opinion in the form of social media, it is more important that one chooses one's words wisely and in a more mature manner. With more and more people becoming keyboard warriors and online activists, I believe it is very important to distinguish between the true and the hoax.

          Online trolls and abusers use their keyboards as swords to kill any opposition for the cause that they might be preaching. People hiding behind the cloak of anonymity are beginning to wreak havoc everywhere. An actress who posts a picture of herself with his close friend is presumed to be a husband cheater and is abused. A sportsperson who posts a picture of himself having his dinner is lashed at for not donating to the poor. Each and every word a celebrity says is twisted and skewed, every sentence is construed to hate religious sentiments and people are getting offended easily. The laying bare of each and every individual's personal life on the online platform have lent an air of intolerance and insecurity among people.

         Men and women keep crying for 'Change' without actually doing anything substantial for the change to materialize. They don't worry if they come across as hypocritical, all they require is that they should register their opinion on almost anything and everything. A man sharing a spectacular video against Child Labour thinks he has done his bit for the society while he forgets the 11 year old boy mending shoes outside his office. There are numerous such instances where people have put up a fake face on the Internet.

          I'm not trying to say such online medium provides only threats to man as a whole. A lot of incidents have been witnessed where the social sites have been used in a productive manner. The December 1, 2015 Chennai Flood is a typical example where the Internet made sure that help reached people even in remote areas as soon as possible. The social media sites served as a platform where people in need posted their grievances and got immediate assistance and relief. That was one incident where humanity rose above the debris of inequality and social media played a crucial role in the overall scheme of things. However, such display of humanity is often marred by terrible incidents where people could have acted more judiciously. A few months back, a young girl was forced to commit suicide by online abusers who kept passing nasty comments on her online page.

          By the look of things, it seems like the Internet and social media are here to stay. As in every other case, the matchstick has been placed in man's hands. It's up to us to either light a candle or burn the house down.



Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri



‘The Namesake’ is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America.

'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…'

For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that 'baby boy Ganguli' be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' – after his favourite writer.

Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss…

Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, ‘The Namesake’ is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.



My Thoughts:

Jhumpa Lahiri

This is one book that every Indian living abroad can relate to. The Gangulis are a traditional Indian family who move to America just before Gogol is born. As Gogol grows up, he is caught between the cultures of his parents' country and the country he lives in now. While his parents embrace Indian culture and everything that reminds them of their home country, Gogol struggles to make sense of it all and India is just a distant nation that is as foreign to him as the moon. While his parents try to grow him as Indian as possible, he tries to put as much distance as possible between him and India.

In this book, the author beautifully portrays the difficulties of settling in a foreign country and the emotional havoc it can wreak on people who are caught in the crossroads of two nations with completely different people and culture. The book is a fantastic read for all Indians, especially the NRIs. The author shows complete command over language and proceeds with the plot in a breezy yet elegant style. At no point in the book did I feel bored or restless.

A few scenes stand out in the book, such as the one when Gogol's father dies and the subsequent consequences the incident causes on the lives of all the other Gangulis, and the scene where Maxine tries to understand Gogol's feelings and emotions but fails to do so. Gogol's mother, Ashima's worries about her children going wayward in a foreign land and Gogol's father, Ashoke's sheer determination to raise his children as intelligent and noble people speak volumes about Indian parents. It is also a great book for some insights into the present generation's mindset at large.

I feel every Indian who is planning on settling abroad should read this book. This book beautifully exposes the merits and limitations on such a move. Spanning three generations, this story is one of its kind.


Quotes

“That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

“You are still young, free.. Do yourself a favor. Before it's too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.” 

“Try to remember it always," he said once Gogol had reached him, leading him slowly back across the breakwater, to where his mother and Sonia stood waiting. "Remember that you and I made this journey together to a place where there was nowhere left to go.”  

About the Author - Jhumpa Lahiri:

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age. 

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years (1997-1998).

In 2001, she married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America. Lahiri currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. She has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005.

Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Much of her short fiction concerns the lives of Indian-Americans, particularly Bengalis.

She received the following awards, among others:
1999 - PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies

Friday, 22 July 2016

5 Books You Must Read In Your Lifetime

Everyone loves reading books. Google estimates that there are around 129,864,880 books in the world. Given the sheer amount of books out there and one's limited lifespan, it can be quite a nightmare selecting your next book. In this blog, from the minor chunk of books that I have read, I try to list 5 books that I feel one must read at least once in their lifetime.


1. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini




          The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event
 changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")

Click here to read the review of the book.


2. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom




           Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

          Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you?

          Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Mitch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final 'class': lessons in how to live.

Click here to read the review of the book.


3. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb



          I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

Click here to read the review of the book.

4. The Story of my Life - Helen Keller



          Recounting her triumph over deafness and blindness and her journey toward becoming one of the most successful and admired women of this century, Helen Keller writes her own remarkable story, providing an emblem of hope and possibility for all.

Click here to read the review of the book.


5. The Test of My Life - Yuvraj Singh, Sharda urga, Nishant Jeet Arora



          A personal account of Yuvraj Singh’s journey through cancer with the 2011 World Cup victory in the background‘

That day I cried like a baby not because I feared what cancer would do but because I didn’t want the disease. I wanted my life to be normal, which it could not be.’

For the first time Yuvraj Singh tells the real story behind the 2011 World Cup when on-the-field triumph hid his increasingly puzzling health problems and worrying illnesses. In his debut book The test of my life, he reveals how—plagued with insomnia, coughing fits that left him vomiting blood, and an inability to eat—he made a deal with God. On the night before the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup final, Yuvraj prayed for the World Cup in return for anything God wanted. In this book, he lays bare his fears, doubts, and the lows he experienced during chemotherapy— when he lost his energy, his appetite, and his hair—and his battle to find the will to survive. Poignant, personal, and moving—The test of my life—is about cancer and cricket; but more importantly, it is about the human will to fight adversity and triumph despite all odds.

Click here to read the review of the book.



Friday, 15 July 2016

5 Things That Can Lift Your Spirits Instantly


 1. Nature

         Whenever you feel down, turn to nature. The gentle and cool evening breeze, the sweet song of birds and the exotic fragrance of flowers are sure to cheer you up and you will be up and running in no time!




2. Music

          Whenever you feel down, put on your headset, take your car and go for a night ride. The world at night is completely different from what you see at day. The world is more accepting at night and gives you ample time and space to analyze your decisions and understand where you went wrong. It's hard to feel down after a late night or early morning drive with sweet music. The cool night breeze, the heavenly silence and the approaching dawn are sure to lift your moods!
www.mensxp.com/special-features/today/24061-11-reasons-why-a-late-night-drive-is-most-awesome-thing-ever.html




3. It's part of Life!

          Whenever you feel down, remember that happiness and sadness make life all the more interesting. You feel sad because you also know how happiness feels like. You cannot appreciate the sun if half the day is not covered in darkness. That is life - it is similar to a rollercoaster. Unless you come down, you cannot go up. So enjoy the ride. You get only one! Nothing can explain this better than this comic!




4. Pets

          Do I need to say anything more?



5. Books

          Whenever you feel down, take a book - a physical one. The smell of old books is hard to ignore. Start reading and get lost in your own world away from all the sorrows and sufferings. Fight a war in ancient Egypt, scale the peaks of the Himalayas, taste the delicious lamb stew prepared in USA, dance infront of the Eiffel Tower or better yet, travel to the future - all through just words. You've got an effective time machine and dream machine combined into one in the form of books. Never miss them!




You have one life. Live it! Love it! And Enjoy it!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Chalkline - Jane Mitchell


This is the story of Rafiq's transformation from child to boy soldier, as he is indoctrinated into the cause of fanatical belief. But his family have not forgotten him - when he can no longer recognize himself, they remember the boy he was, and reach out a hand of redemption as he spirals towards a final act of atrocity.

Rafiq is only nine when Kashmiri Freedom Fighters raid his village in search of new recruits. Tall for his age, he is the first boy to cross the chalk line into a life of brutality and violence.

Jameela cannot forget her brother. While Rafiq is trained to kill in the rebel camp high in the mountains, she keeps his memory alive.


When finally their paths cross again, Rafiq is unrecognisable as the boy who left the village. Will Jameela know him?

Review:

Ever since my childhood, I have always wondered what is going on up north in Kashmir. I come from a town in south India and I used to find newspaper articles and clippings about the fights going on up in Kashmir, the northern border of India. I've always wondered how people managed to live in such high tension places while it was calm and peaceful down south. This book is a real eye-opener on the conditions and the type of life people lead in the beautiful and gorgeous Kashmir.

Rafiq is a 9-year old boy living with his family in one of the vilages in Kashmir valley. One fine morning, he is abducted by people who claim to be Kashmiri freedom fighters. He is cruelly separated from his family and is made to undergo rigorous training. Rafiq is brainwashed by the militants and is made to believe that the war they fight is a holy war fought for the liberation of Kashmiri people from the tyranny of India.

The hardships Rafiq undergo and the way the boy's mind is tuned to make him believe in what he is doing makes the readers sad. To think that everyday, many such boys are kidnapped and made to fight the war makes the reader's blood boil. This is a good read that exposes a part of the dark secrets that the valley of Kashmir holds.

A must-read for all people. The author has done a great job in making sure that she stays true to the plot and also in bringing out the necessary emotions from the readers. This is one book that will haunt you for a long time.

About the author:
Jane Mitchell

Jane Mitchell was born in England, but she moved to Ireland later on, where she studied in Trinity College, Dublin, and taught elementary school children for a while before working in the community with at-risk teenagers who had dropped out of formal education. 

She has also worked with young adults with disabilities.

Find more about the book here.
Buy the book here.
Read more book reviews here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom


          Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

          Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you?

          Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Mitch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final 'class': lessons in how to live.


Review:

Mitch Albom

          A typical self-help book trying to answer all questions in life but not exactly managing to add anything new to what is already known.

          I took this book on a rainy Sunday morning and finished it by that night. It was an interesting read and I must say I was impressed with the simplicity of the narration. The book is about a reunion between a teacher who is counting his days on earth and his favorite pupil. Morrie, the teacher, manages to exude a positive vibe even in his dying days. His last lecture to his favorite pupil, Mitch, is about life and its various aspects like marriage, family, goals etc. This book teaches you to appreciate the small things in your life and not to put your happiness on material things.

          Morrie is diagnosed with ALS, an incurable nerve disease and is said that he has only a few days left. Now, he has two choices to live the rest of the days - brooding over his impending death or to appreciate and enjoy every moment of his last moments on earth. Morrie chooses the latter.

         Mitch, a pupil of Morrie at college, is a journalist who is constantly busy and flies all over the world to cover news. He promises to keep in touch with Morrie during his graduation but fails his promise in his busy career. He comes to know about Morrie's fatal disease through a TV show and visits him immediately apologizing for meeting him before. The two decide to meet every Tuesday and talk about anything that comes to their mind. On those Tuesdays, its just like the old days - Morrie delivering his lecture and Mitch actively listening. They end up talking about Death, Fear, Aging, Greed, Marriage, Family, Society, Forgiveness and a meaningful life.

          The book is loaded with motivational quotes that are guaranteed to make you feel better when you are experiencing mood swings. One quote that I loved is "Dying," Morrie suddenly said, "is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy"". This book is a nice little light read that lightens up your mood and makes you see things around you in a different light.

          I'm not a big believer of self-help books and I feel there is no magic formula for success and happiness. But I highly recommend this book as it puts various aspects of life in the right perspective.

Quotes:

"Dying," Morrie suddenly said, "is only one thing to be sad over, Mitch. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy"

"Death ends a life, not a relationship."

"If you hold back on the emotions--if you don't allow yourself to go all the way through them--you can never get to being detached, you're too busy being afraid. You're afraid of the pain, you're afraid of the grief. You're afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely."

"Love wins, love always wins."

Related Books:

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Suicide

It was 3p.m in the afternoon. Karthick was sitting alone in his bedroom watching his favorite actor’s movie on T.V. 

He had had enough. He was a complete loser in everything he ventured into. Despair and frustration had driven him to the limits of his endurance. 

Looking back at his life, he realized he had not always been like this. There was once a time when he had been more successful. He had been a bright student at school and college and had done very well in his first job. He had been happily married and had a loving wife and a beautiful daughter who meant the world to him. Life couldn’t have been more satisfying and fulfilling. And then, one fine day, everything he valued in his life was snatched away from him in an instant. On that fateful Friday evening, he was in a bad mood owing to a bad day at office. He, along with his wife and his 2 year old daughter were travelling to his mother’s house for a vacation. He was in the driver seat talking to his friend through mobile phone. He ignored the repeated warnings his wife had given him. As fate would have it, a momentary lack of concentration resulted in the car skidding off the road and crashing with the divider. His wife was killed instantly while he and his daughter somehow managed to survive.

After that incident, life was living hell for him. His guilt had become an all-consuming creature living within him and had managed to snuff out every bit of joy and happiness in his life. His despair had grown to huge proportions that he felt he could not live with it anymore. He could not forgive himself for his wife’s death, no matter how hard he tried. Finally, unable to bear the burden any longer, he had decided to end his own life. 

Now that he had made his decision, he felt a sense of calm descend on him. He felt much lighter and his mind was at peace at last. He sat on his bed and looked at the pills that he had bought from the chemist that evening. Those were the angels that would take him to the world beyond. He could not wait to meet his wife there. He slowly took the pills and counted them. Ten of  them. They should do the job. He fetched a glass of water and placed it next to the pills. He was ready... His wife was waiting… He had to go… He took the pills and washed them down with the glass of water. In a few moments, the room started to spin and he could not hold himself steady. Everything was dull and hazy. It was as if everything around him had turned to water and the entire world was in a stupor. Amidst the haze, he heard a loud wail somewhere close. It must be his daughter in the adjoining room. He tried to get up and console his daughter but could not move a muscle in his body. Moments passed… The crying continued, but this time a little farther…He felt darkness surround him and comfort him like his long-dead mother. The crying stopped. There was a blissful silence and a peaceful void everywhere. He was home at last.

The orphaned daughter continued crying …

The movie ended.

Karthick felt bad for the daughter.. He was thankful that he had not resorted to any such ways, though he was almost tempted at one stage after cancer had cruelly snatched his wife from him at an young age. His daughter, Sarah, was the only reason he lived on. He knew his wife would never forgive him if he left Sarah alone.

He knew, “Suicide is never an option!”  



Click here to read all my short stories.

Monday, 11 April 2016

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban - Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb


I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

Review:
Malala Yousafzai

This is that kind of book that makes you look back at your own life and think, "Gosh! How many things have I taken for granted!" This book is a complete eye-opener for me and has been written with brutal honesty exposing the dark reality of basic human rights suppression in some places. The story of Malala serves as a reminder for everyone, reminding us the amount of work that is yet to be done to ensure a better life for most people in the world.

Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize winner, has absolutely stunned the entire world with her audacity to stand up to her rights and this book brings out all the struggles and hardships that she had had to endure in order to get her much desired education. It also provides insights into the happenings at terror-hit regions and I must say I was shocked on learning that there are some people in the same world that I live in, who are not allowed to go to school or walk in the streets freely.

The way Malala revisits the fatal day when she was shot and her subsequent recuperation is sure to bring tears to anyone. Another unsung hero in Malala's life, which I came to know after reading the book, is her father. Her father had been completely supportive of Malala's efforts from the very beginning and it was him who sowed the seeds of the need for education in the minds of her daughter. His struggles to provide good education to his community members is what led Malala to understand the value of education.

Regarding the book, it is beautifully written, making sure that even a common man can understand and appreciate the life of Malala. It is a simple, yet from the heart tale of the girl who rose above all hurdles to get what is rightfully hers. After reading this book, I searched for Malala's speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and I must say, I was completely bowled. For a 17 year old girl, to have such clarity of thinking and a visionary perspective is completely unheard of. This girl is going places.

A must read for everyone - it will change the way you look at things you have in your life!


Links:


Read more about Malala Yousafzai here.
Buy the book here.
Watch Malala's Nobel Peace Prize Speech here.

Quotes:

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow." Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.” 

“I told myself, Malala, you have already faced death. This is your second life. Don't be afraid — if you are afraid, you can't move forward.”

Find more quotes here.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Test of My Life - Yuvraj Singh, Sharda urga, Nishant Jeet Arora


A personal account of Yuvraj Singh’s journey through cancer with the 2011 World Cup victory in the background‘

That day I cried like a baby not because I feared what cancer would do but because I didn’t want the disease. I wanted my life to be normal, which it could not be.’

For the first time Yuvraj Singh tells the real story behind the 2011 World Cup when on-the-field triumph hid his increasingly puzzling health problems and worrying illnesses. In his debut book The test of my life, he reveals how—plagued with insomnia, coughing fits that left him vomiting blood, and an inability to eat—he made a deal with God. On the night before the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup final, Yuvraj prayed for the World Cup in return for anything God wanted. In this book, he lays bare his fears, doubts, and the lows he experienced during chemotherapy— when he lost his energy, his appetite, and his hair—and his battle to find the will to survive. Poignant, personal, and moving—The test of my life—is about cancer and cricket; but more importantly, it is about the human will to fight adversity and triumph despite all odds.

Review:

Yuvraj Singh

This is one of those few books which makes you stop, look around and feel thankful for everything that is around you. Only a few books have such raw power to sway the reader's emotions and make him want more and more from the book. This is one such beauty.

This book, the story of how Yuvraj fought his demons, is simple, straightforward and brutally honest. The Yuvraj we know, the fun-loving, cheerful and prankster guy can be seen in the first half of the book. I've always been a fan of Sharda Ugra and have been following her writings in Cricinfo. She has a simple yet powerful way of conveying her thoughts and that style shines through in this book as well. Yuvraj's early childhood days, his happy family and his passion to become someone big are brought out beautifully in the initial part of the book. The first tears arrive on the reader's eyes when Yuvray describes his struggles during the World Cup 2011 series. I am one of the ardent followers of Indian Cricket and I must say I noticed nothing wrong with Yuvraj when the series was going on. Yuvraj's passion for the sport, his strong desire to be a part of World Cup winning team had enabled him to conceal his physical struggles and go through with the series. And how he fought in the series! Like a raging bull, ready to decimate anyone who came between him and the World Cup. Winning the World Cup was a fitting tribute to his man and his hunger to achieve big.



And then came the Cancer! It was so sudden, so shocking that no one knew what to do. It was obvious Yuvraj was suffering from some physical ailments but no one imagined it to be this big! Yes, it was CANCER - the deadly killer!

Yuvraj had fought a lot of bowlers on the field, but this was different. This was his first battle off the field, and this was against a deadly disease. Yuvraj, being the warrior he is, did not lose hope. How he fought it and came out a winner is best left to the book to describe. It is enough if I say the book has done a great job of it.

Yuvraj's fight against Cancer, the help he received from various friends and family members, the love and support he got from the entire world are sources of great inspiration for all those Cancer fighters out there. Yuvraj's victory is a testimony that Cancer can be defeated and overcome. That he managed to return to competitive cricket in such a short time is proof his passion for the game.



It is only when life puts us in such tough situations that we learn to understand the value of the small things and the people around us. This book brings out this fact in an exemplary manner. A must read book for everyone - a true source of inspiration!


Quotes

“I was not going to feel sorry for myself. No, why should I? When my form came back, or when I picked up wickets, or when I got the big scores, or when I got player of the match, or hit six sixes, had I ever asked God, ‘why me?’ Of course not. Often in my career, I have been the man with silver in the fist. Have I ever asked God, ‘why me?’ No, never. So when the illness came I had no right to ask ‘why me?” 

“What was seminoma, I asked Dr Ashish at one point. A rarest of rare kind of germ cell tumour, he explained, a manageable tumour. I asked him to explain further and this was his reply: Look, he said, your tumour may not be Sachin Tendulkar, but Virat Kohli it is. He can also be dangerous and after all you do need to get him out. I still laugh at this analogy. Later one day I remembered to tell Cheeku about this and he couldn’t believe how much respect the doctor had given him.” 

Other Links

View this book in GoodreadsAmazonFlipkart.
Read about Sachin Tendulkar here.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

A Few Seconds Longer...

          Who was that woman lying on the road in a pool of blood? Ananya did not know her.  A group was beginning to gather around the woman. It looked like a terrible accident. The woman was lying lifeless, a lunch box with it's contents scattered and water spilling from a water bottle.

          Why was Ananya standing here? She had no idea. How did she come here? The last thing she could remember was that she had once again forgotten the promise she had made to Varun -  to get to his school on time. The school lunch time was 12.30 pm and she had to be there ten minutes prior to the bell.

          She had once again miscalculated the time it would take to do the laundry, set the house in order, do the dishes and prepare lunch. By the time she competed all these chores, the old grandpa clock in the hall struck 12. Yes, she would be late to the school once again. In her hurry, she had forgotten the promise she made Varun the previous morning.

          Packing his lunch bag and water bottle, she took off in her scooter. She had 20 minutes before the school bell rang. She could still be on time if she drove fast enough. She was humming a merry tune thinking of her only son who was turning 8 the next week. What a nice boy he was growing into! Ananya was very proud of her son. He was good at sports and loved playing cricket and basketball. He even proved a tough nut to crack when he competed with his daddy in Chess. He had come first in his class every month of that academic year. He would be honored in the next Annual Day for this unique achievement and Ananya was looking forward to that moment.

          She was a little away from the school junction. The school was a few metres down the right lane. The signal was about to turn red. She could turn right before the signal turned red if she drove faster. She accelerated. And then what happened?  How did she end up standing here?

          "Wait, is that Varun? Why is he going towards the dead woman? Why is he crying?  Does he know her? I must comfort him". Ananya started walking towards his son.
       
          "Hey Varun!"... "Hello!".. "Why can't he hear me? Who is that woman he is crying over?"

           She bent over and looked at the woman. Ananya went white with shock on seeing herself sprawled on the road, entirely lifeless and motionless. What happened?

          Suddenly it all came back to her. The black Limousine!... The right turn!... The red signal!... The hurry!...The school!.. The brakes!... The skid!.. The collision!... And the sudden void!...

       She could have waited a few seconds longer...

 

Friday, 1 January 2016

15 Things 2015 has taught me...


  1. No matter how rich you are, how many cars and houses you own, you cannot eat money.


  2. The best investment is to invest your time on the right people.
  3. This!


  4. Books are the best stress busters. Feeling frustrated? Lock your room, grab a book and get lost in that heavenly dream.


  5. There is no such thing as keep in touch forever. 
  6. 22 to 27 is the age when we meet many temporary people in our life.
  7. Time erases everything, I mean everything. Even the worst wounds inflicted on us heal with time. 
  8. Everyone is right in their own perspective. There is no such thing as winning an argument. You only lose a friend. 
  9. A year can turn strangers into best buddies and best buddies into complete strangers.
  10. There is no problem that cannot be solved by your parents' advice.
  11. It is better to be alone than with unpleasant company.

  12. When you have moved on,  the golden past fades away into a dream-like fog.
  13. Fail -> learn ->  get up -> dust yourself -> succeed ->  repeat. There is no other shortcut.
  14. Life is a long journey. Take one step at a time. 
  15. It takes a fraction of a second for all of it to end. Be thankful to be alive. 
Welcome 2016!

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