Mind

Book Review: The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

I really am short of words at expressing the sense of bewilderment that grips me while trying to finish reading this book. It is a tale (?) cum lecture (?) cum thriller (??) that tries too hard to present a lot of ‘research’ in the garb of a serial killer suspense novel. The presentation of this research (mainly carried out on the sites mentioned in the Mahabharata) is quite loud, preachy and pretentious. In the name of  supplying the reader with enough details- historical and otherwise, places such as Kalibangan, Dwarka, Somnath, Mount Kailash and Vrindavan have been historically profiled. In my opinion, these profiles should remain the sole reasons behind the novel’s significance, if any at all. The Krishna Key fails to engage the reader with its exceedingly boring plot inundated with a host of characters, events and ideas and a childish technique which is predictable to say the least.

In a way, the narrator of the tale happens to be Vishnu’s incarnation Krishna himself. It is his voice through which we have an entry to the 108 chapters of the novel. Instead of a breathtaking who-dun-it tale that TKK could have been, what we have in its place is a plot gone stunningly bizarre. None of the characters are allowed to develop enough to let the  reader remember him or her by the time their reference in the text is over. The tedious second half of the book is all the more sluggish.

The language of the book is unimpressive. Throughout its text, The Krishna Key seems to be a constant attempt by the author at nothing more than translating Hindi and Sanskrit lines and dialogues into English. At times the verbal exchanges begin to sound artificial and unrealistic. To illustrate:

Mataji nodded appreciatively. ‘Good. Now let us examine the salient features of a Shiv lingam, shall we? It’s made of two parts. The first is a cylindrical structure made of polished stone. The second is the surrounding coils or grooves ending in a spout. in Shiv temples, a pot of water hangs over the cylindrical structure, allowing for water to continuously drip on it at regular intervals. This water then empties itself out through the spout,’ she explained, pointing to each of the constituent elements as she described them.” (p.40).

The book does not succeed in presenting a coherent narrative of whatever it is that it tries to present. Hindu mythology in general and the Mahabharata in particular form the background. A number of characters are killed in the story by the time the reader realises that they actually have been. Regarding the flow of the narrative, there is little sense one can make of it, thanks to its movement back and forth in time and place.

In brief, The Krishna Key turns out to be quite disappointing. Both as a thriller as well as a fictional reconstruction of the ‘mythological’ past, this one surely does not stand up to the mark.

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This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

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Heart

Corridors

Old corridor

The corridor of my life welcomes this unsung tune every now and then. The playful child calls on when invited, plays and runs around. Her giggles slip in my room through the closed door. She peeps at my naked being often through the window and vanishes even before I begin to think of the pleasant intrusion. Clad in lives I have never lived, I swiftly run for the door. The glitch of the latch alerts the world and the child runs away. A vacuous alley then stares at me. Latching the door back, I shut myself in and begin to undress. The giggles resume. My hat goes off and the games ensue. With the shirt off, a complete orchestra begins to play. By the time I am nude, the crescendo is reached.

I quietly wear a life again. To catch a glimpse of the camaraderie, I tread carefully to the door. The orchestra pauses, the running around slows down. I oil the latches, twist them open without making the slightest sound and look out. Nothing ever happened. Grumbling and swearing in disgust, I take a walk till one end of the corridor only to be drowned in a fragrance that has never repeated itself. The floral sensual treat is her only trace that I have ever been able to hunt down. Unbuttoning myself on the way back, I come running to the room, pick up a pen to make a note of the nostalgic, pleasant smell. Alas! all of it evaporates by the time I turn a fresh leaf in my red notebook.

In the depths of the dreamy slumbers I remain and the games in the corridor go on. Dolls are caressed, opponents are chased, races are won. Instruments are played and whistles are blown. The mini tournament decorates the canvas of my being. I so desire to be a part of it. Avenues that I own refuse to invite me. Like obedient slaves who have no sense of any endearing attachment for their master, I am always kept at bay. “You will be served in time Sir!” they tell me sternly. The moments of our festivities never coincide. Singing to myself and dancing to tunes others have composed, my days pass by. Wish I could dance to tunes themselves. Tunes which are neither mine nor your nor his nor her. The privileges of my corridors make me jealous.

May be it is  the nakedness I wear all the time as the basic minimum that scares and shies her away. Have no sense then, of how to successfully peel this nudity off the materiality of my being.

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Book Review: Another Chance by Ahmed Faiyaz

Writing a review for the second book by Ahmed Faiyaz is for me an occasion to think about the directions that the young Indian mind seems to have come to follow in terms of carving for itself a career as a creative person and its notions of life in general and of relationships in particular.

The book is a slightly complicated tale of a girl Ruheen Oberoi and the various kinds of emotional entanglements she experiences with different men. She learns and not learns a number of lessons while managing (with varying degrees of success) her life. At the other end of the tale is Aditya- her college friend who admires her almost throughout the novel. Another Chance takes the reader to a variety of locations from Mumbai to Shimla to London and Amsterdam which makes the novel script-able for a film which the front page mentions to be upcoming in the year 2012.

The tale tries unsuccessfully to capture a range of predicaments that the protagonists find themselves in. So there is a threatening boyfriend and then an abusive husband and then a devoted lover Aditya whose affection for her seems later to gradually fade out because of his professional engagements (so the story made me believe) . In Ruheen we see a typical instance of  emotional uncertainty that brings her face to face with transforming relationships and allegiances. We are not told about the reasons for her developing a liking for these men in the first instance. Is it merely infatuation that leads her to disastrous linkages or something else was an issue I feel Faiyaz could have dwelt on for the story to have been more nuanced.

Another Chance then is a novel that stands for contemporary upper class Indian youth’s aspirations and is a good window to the perplexities it has come to encounter in the increasingly globalised world. As is clear from the plot, there seems to be now a clear marking out of the settings where love can (should?) happen and romantic gazes may be exchanged. A cup of coffee or a drinking session seems to be the necessary prerequisite. That to me is a stark departure from the mohalla level exchange of letters and scenes of young men pursuing girls riding on bicycles in the lanes of small towns. Romance that ways has gradually been ‘upscaled’ and seems to have acquired a cosmopolitan character and Another Chance is a prime instance of sorts.

There are books that introduce us to characters, make us live their lives and share their feelings. There are books that we read, enjoy and close only to harbor lasting memories. Another Chance is one which I read and enjoyed. I am not sure if I will remember Ruheen and Aditya for that long though. It is well written. There is a pleasant feel to its writing style that is undeniable. Yet it moves too fast for situations to become clear enough and for issues to evolve. Before any of that happens, we are taken to new setting. Amsterdam comes alive in the novel- a part that I really enjoyed reading. Romantic relationships when talked about in a novel, I feel should form the background. Faiyaz pulls it to the fore and that is the reason Another Chance takes the form of a narration and not a tale that I will ever return to!

My Rating : 2 out of 5 stars.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!