Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: The Long Road - Dr. Vivek Banerjee

Ever wondered that your life has been nothing but a journey? Ever thought how times, people and relationships change gradually (well, almost)? Ever realized that you’ve been on a long road where journey is the only destination? ‘The Long Road’ a debut novel by Dr. Vivek Banerjee talks about the same.

Sarika: Super confident. Ambitious. Unperturbed of the stereotypes. Work priorities first.

Rahul: Confident. Fun loving. Caring. Rich. Loves Sarika badly.

Hina: A quintessential small town girl with a very inferior family background. Ambitious.

Ranjiv: Rich. Rebel. On a quest to find his love.

Sagarika: A typical dusky Bengali beauty. Bright student. Ambitious.

What happens if you keep all these people in one big medical school? Sarika after her break up with Rahul comes to reputed medical college in Mumbai. Rahul, in order to get back Sarika in his life, prepares hard and gets admitted to the same college. Meanwhile, Hina, a girl who all her life and lived in an attic in a mosque fights her way to the medical college. Ranjiv, after fighting with his dad over his career, gets admitted to the same college. Sagarika after working super hard makes it to the medical college.

The initial premise of their relationships changes gradually as they spend time in the college together.  The medical studies, the people around them, their ambitions, family backgrounds, young impulsive attitude, and all the chutzpah to do something big, all these things play an important role in their lives and relationships.

The book clearly shows how vulnerable young doctors are; they are always unsure of what to do next! On one hand there lies the future in family and relationships, on the other hand lies the future in career and determinations. Both are equally important for a doctor; and so the decision making and proceeding with it is such a big task. Determination and mental stability is a must for a young doctor and it shows in their characters in ‘The Long Road’.

Talking about the writing style, Dr. Vivek Banerjee is completely an honest man. In the acknowledgement section he clearly states, this might be not the best book you read but he’ll be extremely happy if this book manages to make a special place in you. His style is fresh and pleasure to read. He is witty in some of his lines and humorous in some. Yes, both are different things. He also manages to raise your eyebrows in awe of some of his lines. And yes, of course, with near perfect vocab this book boasts of lesser printing mistakes and better grammar.

The story, well, is about doctors and so the terms related to medicine and surgery were bound to be present. Those of you, who are not familiar with these terms, might feel weird when everything related to these goes above your head. Looking at a positive side, if you try to read those scenes carefully, you might be able to learn many new things about what doctors do.

Also, I want to add, a little more character detailing and a little more description in the chapters would have made this book even more pleasurable. But, looking aside of all these points, this entire book, I breezed through the book and wore a broad smile while reading most of its parts. Kudos to Dr. Vivek (or more commonly known as ‘Ben’ in blogger world) for handling the story well.

All in all, a good book if you’re bored of engineering stories and want to learn something about doctors. Also, if you need a means to make you realize it’s not just a life you’re living, it’s a long road you’re travelling then you’d want to read this book.

Pros: Fantastic theme. Good writing style. Relatable characters, NOT an engineering premise and yes, love!

Cons:  A little less usage of medicinal and surgical terms, a little more character detailing and better descriptive scenes would have improved this book.

Overall: A Good Read. 3.5/5


Book Review: Down The Road - Ahmed Faiyaz & Rohini Kejriwal

School Life. College Life. Ragging. Fights. Pre-teen love. Teen age love. Love.

Elections. Placements. Cheats. Break ups. Heart breaks. Separations.

Attendance. Festivals. Hostel. Deaths. Memories. Childhood. And what not! 

Down The Road – An anthology of short stories, edited by Ahmed Faiyaz and Rohini Kejriwal is capable of bringing out all memories and emotions which once were/are a part of your school/college life.

The book has 28 campus tales by 16 authors. A few of them are average. A few of them are good. A few of them are very good. But most of them are outstanding pieces of writings!

Single line synopsis of the all the stories with their authors is given below:

Ahmed Faiyaz:

Down the Road: Story about an obese guy whose crush was ‘stolen’ by one of friends. This story gives you a hint about what you are going to read in the book.

Reason: A guy missing school and giving fake reasons for his absence. And his father unknowingly revealing the fakeness in his reasoning to the principal.

Knockout: A class infamous for its notoriousness; plans a way to tease their new arrogantly rude teacher. Very relatable and humorous.

Welcome to St. Gibbs: A new guy in St. Gibbs is treated well by the students.

Well-Placed: This story talks about campus placements and all the politics which goes around during that period.

Setting: A guy, recently placed in a reputed bank, secretly marries a small time girl he loves.

Time: A doctor meets an old patient whom he knew since he was in a college.

Remember me? : A man bets his friend that the hottest girl in the party had a crush on him back when they were in college.

Paritosh Uttam:

Sororicide: An unofficial leader of a class unwillingly tames the newly appointed teacher just to make sure; his enemies don’t find any trace of soft spots in him.

Between Friends: A guy asks his friend out on her birthday who, has no friends and a manly figure, refuses.

Rohini Kejriwal:

Learning and Unlearning: Girls getting ready for the farewell night and realizing some things are assumed to be facts but must be unlearned in order to truly learn them.

Growing up: The last story of the book makes you travel through your past memories as a child and you realize it’s a totally different world you live in now!

Ira Trivedi:

Rishi and Me: Story about a selfish girl whom Rishi, the guy who loved her, leaves her for breaking his trust and she regrets.

The Music Room: The story about a student in love with his music teacher.

Malathi  Jaikumar:

The Worm That Turned: A south Indian guy on a journey to Delhi hears out a ragging story of another guy from his fellow passenger.

Dare to Bare: A fearless college guy who dares to scare his college professor off by going naked in front of him in the night.

Sneh Thakur:

The Café With No Name: Story about a friendship between a seventy year old café owner and a college student.

Fresher: Story about a girl who refuses to call his seniors sir or ma’am and ragging.

Chinmayi Bali:

Bellow Yellow: Story about a girl who walked down the path of self destruction.

Ashish Mehrotra:

Smells like Home: A guy who was long gone to Australia comes back to India for good to study in local school.

Naman Saraiya:

One Bump Does No Harm: Story about a couple which believes honesty is not always the best policy.

Sahil Khan:

That’s it? : A guy is caught for carrying a porn CD in school and is temporarily suspended.

Vibha Batra:

Loves me, Loves me not: A guy who loves a girl badly but is unable to express it in a correct manner.

Ranjani Iyer:

Dimples and Cute Smiles: Story about a doctor who is initially scared of handling kids.

Prateek Gupta:

One & one Eleven: Story about college elections, politics and fights and friendship.

Nikhil Rajagopalan:

Just a Moment: Two guys in their last moments of their college life want to enjoy and cherish for long.

Abhijit Bhaduri:

Strangers in Strange places: A man meets his long lost classmate in a strange place and realizes meeting a classmate, doesn’t matter if he/she was not your friend, after a long, long time feels great!

Kunal Dhabalia:

An Accidental Start: Story about how a guy whose only passion was reading ends up writing.

Apart from the stories the book also has two essays about Bollywood on campus and fiction on campus by Aseem Rastogi and Sonia Safri respectively.

Talking about stories, like I said earlier, some are exceptionally well, some are good and some are just average. But it feels good to relive the old memories. It feels great to relate with the stories. Feels awesome to believe reading our own story. Feels good to remember our old and long lost friends, our pranks during college and school time. Feels super to laugh over stupid but cute crushes. The book comes with a bundle of emotions and you can't do nothing but praise it. Many first time authors have shown class and panache in their writings and their stories have the caliber to amaze you.

My top Ten:
(Not in descending order though)
  •    The Music Room by Ira Trivedi.
  •     Sororicide by Paritosh Uttam
  •    Knock Out by Ahmed Faiyaz
  •    One Bump Does No Harm by Naman Saraiya
  •    Well Placed By Ahmed Faiyaz
  •       The Worm That Turned by Malathi Jaikumar
  •    Bellow Yellow by Chinmayi Bali
  •    The Café with no Name by Sneh Thakur
  •        One & One Eleven by Prateek Gupta
  •        Just A Moment by Nikhil Rajagopalan

Talking about the writings, Ahmed Faiyaz is a wonderful writer and I’m looking forward to his novel, Another Chance. His all stories are exceptionally written. Paritosh Uttam is another one with a big command over short stories. Most of you are gonna love his writings. Ira Trivedi was brilliant in The Music Room. Chinmayi Bali has written a very thought provoking story and has written it very well. Naman Saraiya’s One Bump Does No Harm has possibly the best ending out of all. Prateek Gupta’s One and One Eleven has all the thrill you need in a story. Malathi Jaikumar has written both her stories on dare and ragging and written them outstandingly well. Sneh Thakur’s The Café with no name was a touching story and full of emotions.

Just a moment by Nikhil Rajagoplan is sure to hit chords with all college guys as it has all metal, pop, games and friendship in it. Brilliant.  An accidental Start by Kunal Dhabalia is a story to which most of the published authors can relate to. Nice one! Do I need to say anything about Abhijit Bhaduri? His story reminds you that no matter how bad your relationship was with your classmates you will always treat them as cousins if you come across with after a long, long time. Rest all the stories were written in a beautiful manner and you’re sure to fall in love with many.

Why you MUST read the book?
Because you now have all the reasons to read it.

Why you must not?
Did I give any? I guess not.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: A Thing Beyond Forever - Novoneel Chakraborty

What is love? This is the question that has been a part of innumerable discussions, has been a basic plot of thousands of movies and main theme of thousands of books. Even though, many go numb if this question is asked to them. Reason is simple; noone can exactly define it in words. For every individual, the meaning varies from A to Z. And mind you, no one is wrong in defining it. Then the next question arises; what is universal definition of love? ‘A Thing beyond Forever’ debut novel of Novoneel Chakraborty talks about the same.

Dr. Radhika Sharma: For a world outside, is an arrogant woman. But from inside? Well, she is an extremely sensitive girl trying to forget her first love and move on.

A regular day it was, everything was going normally until one young patient poked the sensitive Radhika inside the arrogant Dr. Radhika Sharma. Lost in the vagaries of life, she starts reading the diary written by the guy she loved. She loved him more than anyone could ever love anyone. It did not last long; but then reward for every true love is not love. As she finishes reading the diary, she finds herself facing the situation; which no one could ever term it logical. Was she going mad or was it just the coincidence or is love really a thing beyond forever? Reading the book is the better way to get the answers to these questions.

First off, this is not an easy book to read. If you think you can get off by breezing through the pages while sipping your tea/coffee then you’re wrong. This book demands concentration and introspection in every page. There are a lot of questions raised by the author on life and love via characters that can certainly give you goosebumps and amaze you. Some are answered and some are left on the readers’ answer cultivating powers.

The character, Radhika, is very strong. Very, very strong. You can’t help but praise her even after reading minute details of her character and her love. The way she handles all the situations as a teen ager and as a grown up woman amazes you. Her love, (for the name of her love, consult the book) who has a simple and a very sweet character makes you fall in love with him. He makes you smile; he makes you cry. You do what he makes you to do.

The book, also, generates an urge inside of you to start writing a diary and create journals. The way story proceeds via the journal entries is very fresh. You feel like finishing the book as soon as possible and start writing down your daily events onto one.

Writing style is remarkable. The writer manages to make you smile and make you cry at his will. He has handled the emotions of the characters well. Very well, I mean. Diction is astoundingly brilliant and appropriate.

The only thing which may not go down well after you’re done with the story is the credibility of the events that happen in the book. I mean, on one hand the questions and answers on life and love put up by the author are real and you can easily relate with them and on the other hand the events which occur in the story may be categorized as unreal by some, illogical by some and awesome by the rest.

All in all, I believe, Novoneel Chakraborty is the writer to watch out for. He writes differently and thinks differently. He might confuse those who are into ‘fun books’ but for those looking for some quality read, his books are must, despite of some ignorable shortcomings (Mind you, he is not very old in the field of literature. Give him some time.)

Pros: Extremely brilliant story, Author’s natural flair with the writing, Radhika Sharma, superb philosophy, LOVE!

Cons: Many may question about the credibility of a few events and about the ending.

Overall: Must Read! 4/5

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: Johnny Gone Down - Karan Bajaj

Bored of reading romantic stories? Want to read something ‘out-of-the-box’? Ever thought, what would happen if you step out of your comfort zone for a long, long time? Ever wondered what would happen if you lose your identity? Ever tried reading ‘Johnny Gone Down’ by Karan Bajaj? If not, heck, ever tried Googling about the same?

Karan Bajaj, after phenomenal success of “Keep off the grass” came up with “Johnny Gone Down” which tells about a man set out(or forced, perhaps) on a ‘never before’ journey. From experiencing ups and downs in a sinusoidal manner, Karan tells the story about how Nikhil Arya, initially MIT graduate, falls. Blame his destiny or his surprisingly strange decisions.

Identity 1: MIT Graduate – 1975. The protagonist is just about to complete his graduation. Has been recruited in NASA. His friend, Sam tells him about a visit to Cambodia before they begin their boring corporate job. Hesitatingly, he agrees.

Identity 2: Genocide Survivor – 1977. After being abducted by Khmer Rouge members in Phnom Penh and severely tortured for continuous two years, the protagonist loses all hopes of living. He wishes to die. He has been a place, worse than hell, he feels and has no qualms of not being to get to the US for a normal life.

Identity 3: Buddhist Monk – 1978: After surviving luckily (or again destiny, perhaps) he is taken care of in Thailand by the monks. He has lost his arm and looks crumbled. He decides to stay there instead of going back to the US and follows the path of Buddha.

Identity 4: Drug Lord – 1985: After becoming calm and composed, he with his Buddhist friend fly down to Brazil to set up a monastery. After spending some time there, he feels strange, weird and incomplete. He leaves the monastery and sets out introspecting with himself. The protagonist then saves a Drug Lord in small fight in a bar and thus becomes his friend and accountant.

Identity 5: Software Mogul: Thereafter – After helping his Drug lord-cum-friend to find legal way to success and marrying with his love, he is forced to leave Brazil when his friend’s enough become jealous of his success. He meets a pessimist ex-MITian who has lost all hopes of success and works endlessly on a computer wasting time. The protagonist teams up with him and develops a virtual life online software called Another Life and gives away everything after that, yet again.

Identity 6: Deadly Game Fighter: Present Times – Life has come full circle for him as he is returning to India after getting tired of running and giving away everything, to play a deadly game.  The game is simple. Either he survives or he dies.

What events or decisions or thoughts snatched away everything from him and forced him to lead a life like this? What happens after the game? Does he live or Nikhil Arya or Johnny goes down for good? Buy and read the book as soon as possible to know the answers.

The book blew my mind, literally. I never thought any Indian Author would ever be able to come up with a terrific thrilling novel, until I came across this book. You will not want to keep this book down before finishing unless, well, your own life is in trouble.

The book, written in First Person, has in it to make you travel around so many places without letting you step out of your room. The language is way too awesome. The style is thrilling. The ending is superb. The beginning, oh yeah, the beginning was the part when I actually thought, “Is this true? Is this book managing to run adrenaline throughout my body?” The bad part, okay, I read somewhere that a few complained about the book slowing down as more events come into picture. I disagree. But I’d admit that the concept of Another Life, its explanation and the part where Nikhil spends time online on Another Life was a bit sloppy and could’ve been shorter and simplified. Also, many find the book unreal cuz of larger than life events, my question to them is that whether they are sure about the meaning of fiction? The book is written for people to enjoy and to give a huge amount of thrill. And it does not disappoint. You’ll also notice how Nikhil touches life wherever he goes. And also, all these are my personal opinions.

All in all, a great book for all thrill lovers and for those looking for any story sans love. The story will keep you thinking for a long time once you’re done reading it.

Pros: Super story. Terrific writing style. Nikhil’s journey and his survival instincts. Nice and apt ending. THRILL!

Cons: Another Life concept.

Overall: MUST Read. 4/5