Sunday 23 February 2014

Microfiction: 5 love stories

1. Perfect Love.
They had a fight last night. She came in the room with a blank face, he stared at her with blazing eyes. Both were trying hard to control but soon it became too much. They burst out laughing.

2. Imperfect Love.
He had not returned her calls since morning. Worried, she tried his number again but the line was busy. She dialled another number. A polite voice came from the other side. She replied- "Yes, I'd like to book a table for two.."

3. Unrequited Love
He was waiting at that street corner again. She came, hand in hand with a guy and turned around to see if anyone was looking. Finding no one, she gave the guy a kiss. He was standing right there.

4. Neo-Love
She slapped her forehead, "Oops! I forgot the anniversary again." She ran to buy a gift from the shop. He was preparing a romantic dinner. He had been planning for this day since ages.

5. Non-Love
She deleted her Facebook account, all her email conversations. She wanted no interference from her past. This boyfriend seemed like her only chance at happiness and she wanted to do it right this time.


Friday 21 February 2014

Book Review - Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister by Tabrik C

Title: Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister
Author- Tabrik C
Publisher: Hachette India
ISBN- 978-93-5009-670-3
Genre- Fiction
Price- Rs 350

There are dark novels, there are brooding treatises on human psyche and then there is Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister. The novel is about Siddhartha Tagore who hails from Calcutta, has studied and ends up in 7, Race Course Road- the most reverred, most powerful and the most responsible office of India- the Prime Minister. The cover has the picture of a lone man walking in the middle of a dark road which seems to have no end but there is the Sun shining above and the caption reads- "You can't outrun fate" which paints a gloomy picture, The back cover reads- "India has a new Prime Minister. But is SIddharth Tagore the product of his genius or of his dangerous mind?" and goes on the explain the theme of the novel colored in Jihad, terrorism, Parliamentary politics and the protagonist's inner conflicts.

About the Author-

The author Tabrik C is a political enthusiast who has done his post graduation in History from St Stephen's College, Delhi. It's mentioned that he was the president of the students' union. All these facts are well reflected in his work. Being a Historian, he connects the dots quite elegantly and due to his leadership background, he is full of ideas about change and conflict. The interest in politics is a little too obvious by the title of the book.

About the book-

The cover is elegant and I like how the author's name humbly stands below the title of the book in bold. Pages are smooth and do not have the rough texture of racy, spicy thriller novels have. There is something square and grim about the whole feel of the book and it works in tandem with the serious theme of the plot. The language is surprisingly simple and does not use decorative words. It does dilute the narrative a tad but I think it's forgivable and a deliberate attempt to broaden the reader base.

The book broods a lot, there is a lot of monologue happening inside your head as you go through the pages and that's what a political thriller attempts to achieve. The author seems to be a firm believer in karma, the realization of which brings a smile to the observant reader. If you read the half-paragraph intro of the author on the first page, you'll see how he has poured his whole self out of the pages, spreading out all that he had in these pages. The editing is meticulous yet, I was able to find a few synax and preposition error which were minor and can be ignored eg. "Boring everyone into hell" instead of "boring everyone to hell/ death".

At the end, a word about the Tolkien-esque font switch while dealing with different formats of communication. The author uses a lot of letters, emails, News reports and other forms of communication in his narrative. These are nice because they also give us a deeper insight in the psyche of the characters and also accentuate the brooding nature of the novel. Also, he has used separate fonts to give them a real feel. It has worked and how!

I'd recommend this novel to everyone who has outgrown love stories and is willing to experiment with other genres in Indian fiction. It's a fresh, new theme and  if you can compromise a bit on the lackluster language, the plot has an interesting premise. Now for the brickbats, the novel is disdainful and at times distasteful. It reinforces all stereotypes about how a genius also has to be a little bit nuts too. The description of drugs, the mention of aristocracy side by side with intelligence poses serious questions about writer's worldview and there is also infidelity and insanity which seems to find dubious sanction in his narrative. The political thriller that the novel promises to be is also hollow, it is more like a personal journey of a lunatic which is mostly bizzare. I expected a little more maturity from this novel. Nevertheless, it's one book you hate but you have to finish. The book scores on its premise and premise alone.

My rating *** ( 2 stars out of 5)

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Thursday 20 February 2014

Book Review- Love @ Air Force By Gaurav Sharma

Title- Love @ Air Force
Author- Gaurav Sharma
ISBN- 978-163041628-7
Publisher- Blackbuck Publication
Genre- Fiction
Price- Rs 150

I'd like to thank Nimi Vashi from Reader's Cosmos for giving me this opportunity to review this book. May it keep raining books like this forever!

Now, this is what you'd call a pure work of art. You can imagine how much of a mathematician the author is by the way he has numbered even the acknowledgements in his introductory pages. With 287 pages, you'd expect a lengthy, twisted tale of thrill and suspense but instead, it is delightfully simple and unsophisticated (in a positive sense) tale of human emotions.

About the author
The author has three interests which "intersect". Mathematics (Now you know why he used the term 'intersect'), cricket and writing. The author dedicates the book to his mother and father. Now, here is what I read when I see a guy writing a small poem for his Ma and Pa at the start, dedicating the book to them- this guy has written this book more for the love of writing than for profit-making. He comes from a family with a background in defence and hence understands the nuances involved in that society.

About the book.
The book is about Air Force Station Agra where three classmates get together after years and the sparks that fly. It is an emotional drama involving class envy, love, inferiority complex and inner turmoils. Sergeant Sushil Awasthi is the one blaming his circumstances for where he is and feels like life has wronged him. Medical Officer, wing commander Shabd Mishra is his best friend of school days who now is ranked higher above him at Air force. Soumya is Shabd's school days' crush who is married to another Air force officer. There seems to be enough scope to play around with the emotions of these characters as all of them have got their weaknesses and strengths plus we have the fine nuances of a friendship that transcends class boundaries.

There is not much to write about the literary talents of the author because you'll find use of multiple punctuations, incorrect usage of the apostrophe and certain syntax errors which could certainly have been avoided. But, I am more likely to be booed for being a grammar Nazi in this because of all the honesty and sincerity with which the novel has been put together. One wonders whether the novel would have been more beautiful if the author would have written it in Hindi. But I guess, if India can accept Chetan Bhagat, we certainly have room for Mr Gaurav Sharma. The story seems so real that when you reach the end you feel as you want to know more about these characters, as if they were your friends. All the events and happenings are so commonplace that there comes a point when you stop and check the back cover of the book to see if you've actually bought a fictional book or someone's personal diary.

The language used is of everyday use and there are Hindi words thrown in for greater impact. The novel might look thick but it is so easy on the eye that you won't even notice when it gets over. The poet in the author keeps coming back in the form of small couplets and poems in between; these poems connect the reader to the characters and help strengthen the narrative.

I recommend the book to those who want to take a break from serious reading and are not looking for perfect grammar and linguistic devices. Just an honest story. In words of the author- "The heart is a more sophisticated device than a Sukhoi..."

I'd rate it ***/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars) 

Tuesday 11 February 2014

I want to study Sociology in Britain (Contest)

Though I am a dentist by profession and Britain offers many great opportunities in the field of healthcare and medicine, if it was left upto me to choose which course I'd get to pursue in the country- I'd without any second thoughts pick a master's degree in Sociology or Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I have always been interested in humanities as a kid and I without any doubt LSE is home to some of the greatest minds and ideas of our times. With 16 Nobel winners and around 6 Pulitzer prize winners among their alumni, they boast of a rich, shining heritage.

London School of Economics Coat of Arms.svg

Founded in 1895 by Fabian society members which included George Bernard Shaw, this university follows the motto of "Rerum cognoscere causas" which is Latin for "To Understand the Causes of Things". This scientific outlook in its ideology coupled with the majesty of British architecture in its buildings makes it a lucrative study option. As an Indian, I have special reverence for this temple of learning because of the many leaders and thinkers it has churned out for us. Shri KR Narayanan, our former President had done his graduation from here. When we go back to India at the time of the birth of it's modern day avatar, we count Dr Ambedkar as one of our founding fathers and yes, he was a product of LSE. Other prominent Indian personalities from there are Jyoti Basu, Krishna Menon and Feroze Gandhi.

It also provides a great platform for those interested in doctoral researches as it has a research grant that might make other universities of the World jealous. I'd love to be called a scholar one day, one who has studied in this splendid school of learning with the most amazing faculty and infrastructure one can be offered. These are not sandcastles in the sand however; I am an aspiring civil servant with my optional subject as Sociology. I do wish to take this dream forward if permitted by the Indian Government and study in this reputed studies to excel in the field of Social Sciences. I have so many idols to look up to and so many perspectives to inculcate within myself. I do believe that I will lifelong be a student and that's why I dream of acquiring knowledge and wisdom from one of the topmost universities of Britain, nay, World! Oh, and did I forget to mention- It has a huge library!

Anthony Giddens is a revered name in Sociology and as we speak, I am studying his concepts of structuration- agency versus structure; there is nothing but respect in my mind for this great mind and, he is a Professor emeritus in the same university!! Heck, this is the alma mater of Talcott Parsons! Whose theories of functionalism reshaped the landscape of sociology forever. His concepts of "social action" and the much decorated "AGIL scheme" are hardly alien to any sociology student or enthusiast. With such big names in its list, I don't think there is even chance of a moment of doubt when it comes to choosing a university of social sciences in general and sociology in particular.

Anthony Giddens
Bronislaw Malinowski, eminent anthropologist and functionalist

I am thankful to Indiblogger for letting me express my view here. Also, do check out the British Council's Knowledge Is Great Website to know more. Here is the link-

Images Courtesy: Wikipedia

Sunday 9 February 2014

Microfiction: Five Sad Stories

He looked across the crowd as people stood there, admiring his grand majesty and persona. He groaned and went back to his cave. The tiger had little appreciation for fame and accolades.

The bride blushed. She was nervous. She had heard great things about marriage. He looked on with an inebriated and lustful gaze, unbuttoning his shirt.

He was to teach kindergarten. He sat there on his chair and looked on. A kid came running to him, and my mistake called him 'Papa'. His heart should have lept out of his chest but it didn't. The word was a contempt for him.

He swiched on the TV and sat there gazing at it. He didn't want to watch it but the silence was killing him.

She had completed her medical degree and was well versed with the arts of cooking and home decor. Now, her parents started looking for a suitable groom so that she could start her life as an obedient housewife to a rich NRI businessman.

Comic Cartoons For Comic Fans In the wake of ComicCon India

Friday 7 February 2014

How to read status updates and tweets.

Since social media has percolated so deep in our lives and our collective psyche, the meanings and inferences associated with our Facebook updates, tweets etc have gained significance. Now relationships, friendships etc are made and broken online. Your chances of getting a smile when you next time meet your significant other depend on your 'Last Seen At' on Whatsapp.

I think the day is not far when social scientists will be taking tjis user data seriously and basing their researches on it. Here are a few ways you too can gain the sociological edge by infering from your BFF, BF, GF or just F's status updates-

1. Inspirational quotes
Most inspirational quotes are directly related to the person's actual situation. This fact may be confirmed by the really specific data which is provided.
"Never trust others with things that really matter to you especially your favorite book of short stories. I hope the message is clear enough."
Clearly someone took this person's favourie book.

2. Frequent Check-ins
There are people who'd check-in at the nice places they visit and give us good reviews and then there are those who check-in at their own homes, public toilets, nearby paan shops etc. There is a hidden message in those check-ins which we all ignore. We ignore the fact that this person is feeling ignored. It's like ignore-squared! So be a pet and drop a comment on these attention-seeking updates. You will almost see a sense of gratitude in the replies.

3. Instagram (What I had for lunch)
These are just random photo updates which seek out the approval of the audience. They differ from the frequent check-in updates in the sense that as opposed to the former, the instagram-updater already thinks he is popular and these updates are just his ways of pleasing his audience.
It is confirmed by the number of likes and comments on these petty pictures. Coincidentally, almost all of the times, the person uploading these photos is a hot chick.

4. The broken heart update.
This update is characterized with a vague sense of sorrow where the reader is free to speculate on the causes. Here are a few examples-
i- Feeling sad today.
ii- Feeling sad and bored.
iii- Why does he always hurt me?
The commenters are supposed to get worried about the situation and enquire about the details. The trick is to never reveal the details and let the audience worry incessantly. Like in earlier situation, this too is employed by good-looking people or people who think they're pretty.

Do add more patterns in the comments section that you might have come across. Contribute to the research.

Sunday 2 February 2014

Looks Versus Brains!

In my series of intellectual-sounding blogposts, here's one more. We often come across people who are out of our leagues, well, at least I do. Now, that is almost always based on appearance. How does this notion of superior and inferior looks come into picture in a world where it's all relative? I think I'll take the concept of subcultures to explain these conflicts. We know that every society has a mainstream culture and a set of undercurrent or sub- cultures. These cultures emerge out of deprivation and anomie i.e. normlessness. When the society sets certain goals for individuals that turn out to be unachievable for them, those dejected people turn to form their own values and cultural norms and that results in the genesis of what is called as a "subculture".

Looking at people who prioritise looks over anything else, we can assume that they form a subculture which regards beauty as its primary standard. How does physical beauty turn to be so important for these people. Such people are characterized with extremely careful attitude toward their looks and take extra care to groom and prepare themselves. They look down upon the untidy ones and gossip demeaningly about them. One of the reasons of the emergence of such an extreme attitude can be the lack of intellect and thus, the inability of fulfil the criteria expected by the society which considers academics to be the criteria of prime importance. So, in this case, the geeks and nerds are derogatory terms and hunks and babes gain social approval.

If we reverse the scenario and consider the external beauty-minded ones to be the mainstream culture, then the outcasts would consist of these braniacs who actually are lacking in the department of physical appearance and the ability to groom themselves. This perspective assumes that these people work on their academic skills harder because they need to compensate for the sake of their self worth for their lack in appearance. And since this subculture has to gain approval, it looks condescendingly on those who do not follow its rules. Bimbos and dimwits are some of the condescending terms popularized by this subculture.

Now, by the way of above explanation, it is unclear as to which one is the main or dominant culture of the society as both seem to be overlapping subsets of each other. I'd propose that we do not delve deeper into the question of which one is dominant and for our understanding's sake assume that both are more or less equal in terms of quantity and frequency in the population.

There are also people who have both the brains and looks. For them, there still, is a question of priority. I think, it is these people who can provide us with deeper insights into the psychological underpinnings of the condescendings and admirations involved in either societal norms. Do they have to be critical of 'bimbos' when they're with their fellow nerds? Do they look down upon 'geeks' when they're with hunks? I think they are the perfect chameleons, at least some of them. The others might pick a side and stick with it as diplomacy might not be their cup of tea.

So, which one are you?