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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sister of my heart

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The next stop in my Orbis Terrarum Challenge was India. As per my list, I was supposed to read R.K Narayan's book but my eyes fell on this one and the reviews were so amazing that I couldn't resist myself from picking it up. I had read 'Mistress of Spices' by the same author and was not too impressed with it, but the story and reviews of this tempted me to try her book once again and I am surely not disappointed this time!

The story is about a bengali family, two sisters, cousins - Sudha and Anju, born on the same day... growing up in a household of 3 widowed women in Calcutta. The story is quite typical and cliched, but what makes it different is the way in which it is told, the events are so interlocked and it goes zigzag across time and alternates between India and America (the 2 places where the story is set up). Both Sudha and Anju are inseparable and so attached to each other that you can hardly say where one begins and the other ends. Both of them are forced into arranged marriages under different circumstances and their lives takes a drastic turn when each of them gets to know of some hidden truth. The bond of love and friendship that they share is very heart warming and their relationship shows to what extent one can be selfless and find happiness in sacrificing for someone you love. The story is full of unexpected events and surprises. It just keeps you at the edge of your seat and I found it hard to put it down every night and would eagerly wait to read it the next day!
About the author, I have heard that she gets very stereotyped in her stories and focuses only on bengali women and their issues. Maybe if I pick up another novel of her's I might notice the same but nevertheless, I enjoyed the way she has chosen to tell the story. The chapters alternate b/w Sudha and Anju - one chapter from each person's perspective, yet the story is so smoothly flowing; you dont feel left out... searching for details. I loved the way she has used the right words to describe each situation or emotion... and it defnitely has an impact. Even if you dislike this author, you will still surely enjoy this book! By the time I finished the book, I was left craving for more.... I've heard there is a sequel to this and would love to read it!

Next on the list : A Thousand Splendid Suns

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Power of silence

Found this nice article called 'Silent Power' in TOI yesterday.. Pretty interesting and definitely worth a read.

Link to the article

It talks about silence as a means of communication and how effective it is... sometimes much more than words, and also it's importance in relationships. Silence referred to here, is not just absence of sound, but a state within you where you are at peace with yourself - the stillness of mind. It is something that gives you that inner power, removes tensions and helps you cope better with relationships on all levels....

"From silence, our true powers emerge - the powers to withdraw, to accommodate, to face the truth, to discriminate right from wrong, to tolerate and to co-operate..."
"Silence is your connection to your soul. This is where true power resides. You begin to see life with clarity"

All these are for sure inspiring and thought provoking and am sure pretty effective if put in practise... but we all know, it is easier said than can just keep at it, and keep trying hoping u can be there someday!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Author: Mohsin Hamid

As part of the Orbis Terrarum challenge I picked up this book first, though it was not on the top of my list and am glad I did. It's one of the most interesting books I've read so far. A very short one, just about 180pages and something that you got to read in one sitting to really follow and enjoy the plot. You just cant put the book down till the end 'coz every page u read makes u want to read further to know what happens, till u reach the end. This is one such book that you should read before reading any of the reviews. Because even a one-liner on what the book is about is going to spoil your whole experience. So if you are planning to read this book at any point, then warning - *do not read the next paragraph *

I loved the way the author has written this book 'coz I found his style of expression very unique. The whole book is complete first person narration; a pakistani talking to a stranger from America about his experiences in the US of A and how his life changes after the World Trade Center comes down. The main character, Changez, has gone to America for higher studies, graduates from Princeton and joins one of the top financial firms in the US. He falls in love with an American girl - Erica and their love story, built amidst the growing tension between US/Afghanistan/Pakistan, is something that really touches your heart. The author's command over language and the way he has played with words is just awesome. The way he takes you back and forth, between the past and the present, in his narration is downright amazing. I feel, in a monologue, it is very tough to keep the reader's attention and curiosity alive thru out the book and the author has done it really well. The ending is something that I really loved, coz it is not perfect, it keeps u thinking what really could have happened! Sensitive topics like the war between Afghanistan and US after the WTC bombing, the perception of the US in middle east and other parts of the world and the plight of a lot of people who were part of this disaster, are described in a subtle yet thought provoking way. The emotions are complex and the characters are something that you will not forget as soon as you finish the book... Overall, a very nice read and really worth it.

So, my book for the month is done :) Before I pick up one more for the next month, which is most probably "Reading Lolita in Tehran", I have a couple of other ones to finish... one of which is Shantaram :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I believe I can fly....

I don't remember the names of these birds :(

Painted Stork (not sure what this bird was doing though..)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Orbis Terrarum Challenge...

I came across this book challenge thru' one of the book blogs that I follow regularly. I found this pretty interesting 'coz I never knew there are so many different type of challenges that people take up for reading books! :) It starts from April 1st (tomorrow) till December' 20th. The challenge is to read 9 books in these 9 months by 9 different authors from different parts of the world.... Isn't that something unique?! Am really excited! I would never have put in so much thought to list down books from so many different authors if not for this... ! So here goes my list...

1. Waiting for the Mahatma- R.K Narayan (India)
2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan)
3. The Conservationist- Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
4. Kafka on the shore - Haruki Murakami ( Japan)
5. Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi (Iran)
6. To kill a mocking bird - Harper Lee (USA)
7. A thousand splendid suns - Khalid Hosseini (Afghanistan)
8. One hundred years of solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia)
9. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (Australia)

The list might change a bit in the due course but mostly it would be the one above...

Btw.. I still have my Shantaram to read... I guess I will finish 5 more books by the time I complete this one! :)