Book Review Treat: “Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta

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Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta is a novel which can easily cut through the clutter of contemporary authors flooding the market with light-fluffy stuff. It’s a good, intellectual as well as an interesting read which challenges the reader and brings forth some very pertinent questions in a quite entertaining way. The book deals with heavy questions of criminal psychology and how a criminal should be viewed and treated in a society.

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This book is very well written. It is divided into various sub plots, all woven very intricately and flowing in a sequence so it can provide enough suspense and build up to the reader.

The main protagonist, Dakshesh is shown to be at the last stage of cancer nearing a painful death. To be relieved of this malady, this pain, he asks his comrades to take him to three powerful mystics who seem to be the only ray of hope for an escape from this dreary end. The story seems to be going on a spiritual turn just when the twists are brought in, rather very cleverly, and these three are shown to be in real hardened criminals. They narrate their stories to Dakshesh and how they came to a fork in the road in their lives  on meeting Alia, a homeless girl, when they made the decision to leave their dark pasts behind and move to a better path.

These three monks bring with them a lot of variety as all three belong to three different religions- Rizwaan, a Muslim; Murli, a Hindu and Joseph, a Christian. The issues they dealt with are also different and each equally dark in their own ways. One was a murderer, the other a rapist and the third, a lover turned torturer. The differences brought out with so much dexterity point to the fact that crime in fact has no religion, and religion rarely does determine the path a person takes. It is more often the circumstances, the struggles and state of mind of the person embarking on the dark and dangerous path of crime.

The author manages to highlight very important factors that bring a person to such a path: the control of mind over a person or a person over their mind? Once you enter the dark path is there ever really an escape? Hallucinations and misjudgements or clarity and cutting through illusions: which does a person choose and where does the choice lead him to?

Though no one could relieve Dakshesh of his physical pain, yet, listening to their stories relieves him of hid mental and emotional agony as the nature of their minds makes him come face to face with nature of his own mind and the issues plaguing a society at large.

Overall, this is a very well written, fast paced novel. Though the plot seems simple, in reality it is not as there are so many sub plots interwoven beautifully, adding a very unique touch to the story. The plot is very unique and interesting to read, and the author must be commended for developing it so well.

Book Review Treat: The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee

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The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee questions the rejection of love between two people in the society on the basis of non-consequential factors like caste, creed, racist views. The equation of how these limited views affect innocent emotions between two loving people and how separation changes them forever, only for the worse.

How people divide on the name of religion and more similar imaginary barriers, while hopeful and innocent youth break out of those false barriers to unite in love is questioned.

The story is about Sarfaraz and Meghna, and how hard he tries to break all the barriers to reach up to the one person he truly loves. The title is kept Colors of Love because we see Sarfaraz’s character growing and changing with his love, and when he is separated from that one true thing that made him complete, his personality and vivacity change a lot too.

Also, the book explores the discrimination Muslims face in the city of Combatore and how Sarfaraz suffered at the hands of this racist mindset both in society and also his personal relationships.

The author has done a good job in bringing out these emotions, and also in questioning the mindset that plagues the society. What was very encouraging to see was, that Sarfaraz could rise up from his difficulties and make a good living. Despite his father thinking of him otherwise, he managed to make his parents proud and give them the life they deserved.

A very strong, smart and encouraging character is brought out in Sarfaraz’s mother, who probably is the reason behind his fighting spirit. Nadia Begum, like any other woman in that society was looked down upon by her husband and her views never mattered. However when it came to practical matters and matters of survival, she had a very sharp brain, even more so than her husband. She was a cheerful lady who was very open minded in the matters of relationship as well, and Sarfaraz could easily share his relationship voes with her. She was a woman neither bound by religion, gender or society- and it is this spark which inspired Sarfaraz to find his holding in a chaotic world.

The narration style is very interesting, however the dialogues between Sarfaraz and Rameez (his best friend) are written in a very novice manner, which takes away from the reading experience.

Lastly, I would say the author manages to raise very important cultural and religious issues plaguing the society. Also, the different shades of love, emotions, relationships, friendships and choices are explored very well, which makes this novel a valuable reading experience.

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Book Review Treat: In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee

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In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee is a novel which looks at the nature of relationships very closely in modern society and questions the precepts on which we base the expectations of a relationship.
Shruthi is a modern South Indian girl, she has been blessed with everything in life. She has had a perfect life- a rich supportive family, a good education and a loving boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Even her in-laws were loving and supportive and she was later blessed with two kids.
However, the thing that hold Shruthi back is that she’s always been overprotective and she has never had to take a fall in her life. Thus, despite being a very happy person she finds herself in an extra-marital relationship with her neighbor Rahul.
What I find very funny, whether it be the attitude of the writer or the character only, that the same person who gives up her career after her marriage with Madhan (apparently because he was already earning very well and she had no drive to have a standing of her own) under the guise of ‘motherhood’ later tries to moralize extramarital affairs (done without the knowledge and consent of her partner who trusted her so much and was loyal to the core with her) throughout the novel. Not to mention, her extra-marital affairs affected her parenting as well, she ended up neglecting her kids when they needed her the most.
While the question raised about society enforcing on monogamous relationships as a rule is valid and worth thinking about, however, given Shruthi’s situation, it’s very alarming that the author has tried to justify ‘adultery’ as a form of polygamy till the end of the novel whereas there have been humongous questioning of why women should work after marriage. (The protagonist seemed to lack a drive for self-development and responsibility throughout the novel).
The hypocritical nature in the development of this character brings out the question as to what kind of female protagonists do contemporary male writers seem to portray. While a woman’s desire to balance self-reliance and motherhood is questioned; infidelity as a form of polygamy (even at the cost of upkeep of children and family) has been justified till the end. I wonder if this form of polygamy is justified for men?
Shruthi has been in love with two men. While she says she loves her husband who toils so hard for her and does his best to provide her and their kids a safe and secured childhood; she also loves her best friend’s husband secretly.
However, when she realizes the hidden motive behind Rahul’s love and more importantly the fact that he was having another affair through his wife, her views on polygamy magically changes and she starts hating Rahul for having cheated on her all the while.
Despite having information over how Rahul was secretly planning to harm both his wife and Shruthi, she makes very less effort to actually act upon it and take responsibility. Neither she tries to apologize to her husband nor her best friend. The only luck she had saving her from a life-debiliating situation was her luck, her father’s money and her husband’s blind love.
Though the initial premise of the novel is very promising, like:
* how the protagonist compares her life and challenges with the sea, sometimes powerful other times crashing and some other times silent and weak. She beautifully relates her life situations and choices with the Sea as a witness and a silent strength.
* in her monologues about how society views relationships and polygamy. The expectations, rules versus the matters of heart

However, the threads which looked very promising were left loose by the author. There was a very weak character building, and questioning of morality was a very dubious and hypocritical in nature. As a protagonist, I would say Shruthi did not contain much strength nor content. She did very less, rather she took further self-sabotaging choices when she was given a chance to act upon her ‘ideas’. It is shown that Shruthi as a character never truly grows. True to her upbringing, she relied on fate and ‘adults’ taking care of her dirty business.

She does questions morality in society, but only when it suits her personal interest and caters to her own convenience and her personal gains. In places where morality tested her own discretion and required her to make tough choices, standing up for herself and others, she falled short because her contemplation only came from a place of self appeasement.

I think this is a major turn off for this book because if the characters don’t manage to teach you something valuable in this already complex moral society, what is the point of raising questions in the first place? Liberal views are good when the precepts of it are same for both the genders. Here we see a topsy side of the patriarchal society- while the woman questions her right to freedom, she’s enraged and hurt when a man is put in the same position.
If she so believed in an extra-marital affair as polygamy, why did she judge Rahul when she found he had another woman in his life? Wasn’t she doing the same with Madhan, her husband, as he was doing with her?
If she believed in polygamy, shouldn’t she have conveyed this to the person she called her soulmate and the one who fought till the end for her?
Also, if she accuses a working woman to be neglecting her role as a mother, why did she neglect her own children (and her in-laws’) because of her affair?
Is there a clear message being sent by these contradictory views? Is Shruthi a quintessential ideal character for a modern patriarchal mindset, catering to male fantasies? While she’s allowed to be sex-starved, she’s not allowed to be a strong, independent and a self-reliant person.
There’s also this question of how a woman in modern times receiving trust and support from her in-laws abuses the freedom right behind their back. And she’s never questioned for it!

Throughout, we find Shruthi’s character to be very childish and insensitive to other’s concerns. Even at the climax when she was acquainted with the choice to act upon her mistakes, she does very little to apologize genuinely and set things right. She infact, as usual, relies on her fate and her Dad to take hold of the situation.

The writing style used in the book is casual and easy for a reader, and in the end the story suddenly takes up pace. There have been instances where the tension has been built well. The characters are very realistic, even Shruthi’s character in my opinion because she questioned the moral standards of the society only when she saw the thrill and adventure in it. However, when the initial honeymoon phase was over and it was time for tough choices and taking up a stand, she began to question her own liberal views!

Dame of Flames (a poem) by Madhulika Mitra

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Dame of Flames by ©® Madhulika Mitra

She was a keeper of flames

Burning with the same
vigorous intensity as her dream.
It is said vile beasts of fervor
Can’t be tamed within electric barriers
But only be contained,
Till the lightening merges
into their burnt essence,
And molten ashes birth
Where subsided flames existed.

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Book Review Treat: Colours Of Life by Inderjit Kaur

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“Kaleidoscope- Colours of Life” is a book with a really creative and a new concept. Part 3 of Living Series, Inderjit Kaur comes up with a book of inspirational essays to guide through the hard and easy bits of life. But what makes this book is the way it is presented and set up. Part A of the book is titled ‘Rainbows’ and each color of the rainbow is illustrated through an inspiring person that the author has encountered in her own life.

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The author lists down the quality of the person that she relates with the respective color, and then the story of her encounter with that person and what she learns from that person which helped her realize something in her own life. The best thing is that these people are not any extraordinary, high achievers but everyday people like us who might not even be noticeable in a crowd if we just take them by their appearances. This makes the characters extremely relatable and simply through a general interaction they leave such pearls of life lessons behind, that can open us to so much awakening and new ways of thinking at one go. Each essay is ended with a quote by a powerful and motivational personality, appropriate to the theme of the essay.  While the “Spiritual Violet” reveals the story of a common shop owner. Despite unsettling tragedies, this man who the author addressed as Jeevan Kaka, amazed people with his unfailing attitude despite all odds. His simple and spiritual nature, quite evident from the short interaction in the essay itself proves why he deserved to be honored under “Spiritual Violet”. “Compassionate Orange” is a tragic yet awe inspiring tale of Annette, who became mentally challenged due to the atrocities faced by her alcoholic father at a very young age. Perhaps her bubbly and innocent nature was due to her mental retardness, yet to see her devoid of any angel, resent or feeling of vengeance leaves one thinking that how even normal thinking persons are caught in the web of their own makings. We are quick to judge and ever harder to budge (we’re okay sticking to one line of thought or belief even when there are many routes to take in the same situation).
Part B of the book is titled “Contrast and Hues”. This part deals with various shades of life and personalities. The essays are titled based on virtues and attitudes we choose to carry with us further in our lives. “Being Committed” is an essay about being committed to one’s own growth and learning. It’s easy to lose hope and pace, it’s easy to give up but what’s rewarding is to keep walking even if we’re slow, even if we lose track hundreds of times or stop momentarily to charge ourselves. The author notes how she takes small steps each day to make her a better, stronger person than what she was yesterday.

We are often a victim to procrastination. But the hard part about this is we stand to lose opportunities! Once we start taking responsibility for the decisions we make in our lives, and stop blaming or relying on others, not only do we become more independent but also our choices start becoming much easier. Based on this theme, the author introduces an essay titled “Opportunities Slip Away”.

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The author went through a very tough phase in her life, which she mentions in the Introduction. However it is her hard phase which brought more clarity in her life about herself and her choices and these are a basis for this book, a beautiful & inspirational collection of essays. This is a very good themed book, apt for raising our motivations and quick to give us inspiration when we’re looking for some guidance. The editing of this book is really poor. The author has made use of very long and incomprehensible sentences which take away the effect that the essays could have had on the reader. The theme of this book is excellent and unique; however the author could have worked more of developing it. Though I would definitely suggest this book for first-time readers considering the theme and the message that this book aims to deliver, however, for people who have already forayed into self-help or motivational collection of essays, the writing style & grammar make the book very drab to read. Also, even though the author has chosen very inspiring topics for her essays, and many a times the anecdotes, experiences, encounters and stories she introduces are worth noting, however the views of the author on the same come as to be very opinionated and limited at times, which is again a big disappointment for a book which seemed to be quite promising. I’ll give this book an overall 3 on 5.  As an ending note, I will say that this book is any day better than a chick lit or “another teenage novel” which contemporary Indian authors seem to be quite obsessed with, and at least this collection of essays has something new to offer and gives something to think about.

© 2016 Mind Pickles

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Book Name: Kaleidoscope- Colours Of Life (A Living Series Part 3)
Author Name: Inderjit Kaur

Buy This Book at: https://www.amazon.in/Kaleidoscope-Colours-Life-Living-Book-ebook/dp/B01D8O6K8A/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471805434&sr=1-4&keywords=Colours+of+Life

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Book Review Treat: Promise Me A Million Times by Keshav Aneel

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Book Name: Promise Me A Million Times 

Author Name: Keshav Aneel

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Promise Me A Million Times is a novel written by Keshav Aneel. The main characters have names like Aster, Edwin and Charlie. The story is also based in fictional cities like Etiole, Beaten, Grane and Lugaar which could have brought interesting side to this story however the lifestyles, places and setting are all Indian so this mismatch in the names creates a disconnect while reading the story.

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Starting with plot, this story is about two guys who are orphans with big dreams. They come with hardly any money but lots of hopes and expectations to make a good lifestyle in a big city. Though Edwin is ambitious and wants to be a big actor some day, Charlie is a simpleton who’s only aim is to support Edwin in his dreams. Little did he know that he has a lot in store in life to discover.

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The writing style is simplistic and maintains the interest of the readers. But the scenes and the dialogue is very clichéd most of the times which makes it quite difficult for this book to stand out from an already huge collection of contemporary Indian authors. Nevertheless it comes with a good message of perseverance despite failures, never giving up, understanding a person beyond their flesh, and standing by your friends no matter what. In that aspect this book is a great introduction for non readers and teenagers for whom this book will provide good lessons to follow.

A remarkable thing about the author Keshav Aneel is he dropped out of his job to follow his passion of writing his book. This in itself is such a great message to today’s generation who feel like a lost cause just after failing to clear an exam. In times of tough competition and survival, the author’s journey as well as this book reminds us that braving it all to follow our passion is truly worth it. Aster, Charlie and Edwin stands a testimony to this truth of life.

Another good aspect of this novel is Aster and Charlie’s bond as it is so heartfelt and deep. Aster is such a strong and inspiring person and plays more than a role of protagonist’s love interest. Towards the end, the realization that Charlie has about sacrifice and insecurity in love is profound and enlightening.

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars and hope the author comes up with much newer themes.

© 2016 Mind Pickles

Buy this Book here:

http://www.amazon.in/gp/aw/d/9382665730/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470907977&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX118_SY170_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=promise+me+a+million+times

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Book Review Treat: A mystical majesty, The Woman

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A girl’s life isn’t easy. But it definitely is interesting. Just because a woman has to face too many hardships in life doesn’t mean that she is doomed and she cannot be an inspiration to others. Or her life becomes any less meaningful. Rather, it’s her challenges and the grit and determination with which she faces them or raises her voice against them, is what determines her true power. A woman isn’t weak. She’s actually stronger than you think.

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Based on this theme, Ruchika Rastogi comes with a delightful story of a girl who braves it all yet manages to maintain her delicate, lotus like heart. The book “A Mystical Majesty: The Woman” is like interconnected essays forming a theme. The book is divided into various units which follow the journey of a girl through the various stages and the myriad challenges she faces at each step and how she manages the walk with grace and dignity so she doesn’t lose her footing.  Interspersed, there are beautiful sketched pictures of a girl through those different stages reflecting her dreams, passions, vision, personality, character, desire, ambition, setbacks- all in her eyes, smile, body and poise. These images help us understand the concept of the following Unit {as the essays are divided into Units yet all the Essays follow into a common theme and story} and helps us view the woman/girl as a human- someone more than her body, someone more than a corpse. A human with emotions and dreams, just like any other- something that the society conveniently forgets at many occasions. The poems at the end of each chapter beautifully summarizes the essence of the chapter.

The book starts with a Speech of Kiran Bedi which she gave at Pondicherry Engineering College on being a woman and balancing parenting with work. Kiran Bedi is just what many of the Indian women would aspire to be: a strong career woman, a fiery social activist, outspoken and champion for human rights, and with that all a good mother and wife. She shows that a woman is so much more than a doll in a kitchen. She can make so much more impact in the society if only her worth is recognized and encouraged.

A girl’s life starts with the freshness and wonder as that of a dew on a lotus: eagerness and lots of hope for the new world. She is cheerful, bubbly, full of motivation to do something. Something big.

Then the stage comes when people like to capture that jubilance, that airy freshness for their own desires. A man has to have the prettiest girl. Or a very multi-talented girl. Or an artistic girl. Whatever it be, he needs to have the best of the best. Though the girl is happy and herself full of hopes, little does she realize that the bird is entering her own cage. Her days of dreamy flight are over.

Motherhood is an exhilarating time. Even though we imagine it to be full of beauties, it is infact filled with a lot of mixed emotions. Apprehensions, fear, anxiety on one hand. Joy, excitement, hope, positivity on the other. Going through such range of emotions at your must vulnerable yet powerful time is in itself is a challenge. Carrying a child in your womb for 9 months isn’t the only one we get to know!

The following units and chapters focus on evolving relation between the mother and child. From a stage where mum is the child’s superhero to the stage where differences creep in and your mum is not ‘right’ all the time anymore, the myriad emotions a woman faces concerning her child is complex and delicate. Also then there are the challenges of a working mother. How does a woman balance her own identity and her identity as someone’s mother at the same time gracefully. Challenges and unnecessary politics don’t taint the pristine heart of a woman as her strong goals preserve her determination. Why do the men forget the woman who is their colleague/ subordinate is someone’s mother just like they have their own mothers. Would you met out to someone that which you won’t wish upon yourself?

Then comes the sacred crone stage of the woman when all that which made up major part of her identity is slowly falling out from her life like sands amidst the fingers. Her kids have grown up and they’ve made up their own careers. Now is the time the young birds fly away/ enter a new cage as they accept a new life for themselves. The mother as a nurturer and protector isn’t needed anymore as the kids are on their own now. Yet, this is a golden time for her to re-discover and re-build herself, as a new person.

The joys in her life is once again filled with the coming of her grandchildren. What she saw in her kids years back, she can relive once again in her grandchildren. Until, they are old enough to rely on their own parents. And once again the woman faces the new challenge of finding her true self away from the needs of family once again. She is reminded to find her role beyond that of a nurturer.

Supermen are only in movies. But superwomen are all around, in real life! A superwoman is hiding within each girl and perhaps she realizes it only when she has lived life full circle.

The writing style of author is easy to read and relatable. The story is in general essay form, though each essay is intertwined, leading to the main theme. However, it would have been better if the author could have written these as fiction, with stages from a girl’s life illustrated through relatable situations. The book has a lovely theme but this story is only a one time read. A metro read to be exact! The poems at the end of the essay, and sketches at beginning of the essay are wonderful add-ons. However, the Units could have been named as “Stages” since this Unit system gives this book a very kiddish structure, looking more like a textbook than s novel. I would say this book is a decent attempt by the author but considering the author’s background as PG in English and her experience with differently abled people, the bar of expectations is definitely raised high.

© 2016 Mind Pickles

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Book Name: A Mystical Majesty: The Woman
Author Name: Ruchika Rastogi

Buy this Book at:

https://www.amazon.in/Mystical-Majesty-Woman-Ruchika-Rastogi-ebook/dp/B01B084AXS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469892873&sr=1-1&keywords=a+mystical+majesty

 

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