HydRAW 2022 OctoberReads
Write-ups and book reads of our members in October, 2022
The October lists are down, but we have two superb reviews by Muralidharan Parthasarathy and Fizza Younis. Also, the universe is back in equilibrium with Arun Kumar reclaiming the top slot with 15 reads and Fizza, a close runner-up with 14 reads.
First the write-ups and then the lists.
Muralidharan Parthasarathy (on To A Mountain in Tibet) : I picked the book the moment I sighted it amongst other books in the library. I had gone on one of the toughest treks (somehow completed) to Hampta Pass near Spitti Valley hiking from Manali. But this Kailash trek he undertook is probably one of the most challenging and toughest in the world. Is he a travelogue writer? Or is he an anthropologist? Is he a historian? Is he researching the various religions of the subcontinent? Or is he all these?
There are many treks to the base camp of major peaks in the Himalayas. Kailash which is also called Mahameru is thronged by the pilgrims for a circle (pariikrama) of the peak. Both Hindus and Buddhist pilgrims believe the circle of the mountain will cleanse all their sins. Millions of years ago Kailash and most of the Himalayas were under Tethya Sea. The Mansaarovar lake is very holy, and boating is not allowed in the lake. Sven Hedin, a British explorer boated extensively in the year 1907 was the second to boat on the lake and he was pulled up both by the media and the Government when he returned home. The history is the local governor was given the capital punishment fifty years earlier when a Scottish trekker boated for the first time ever.
The author sequentially narrates his expedition to circle around Mount Kailash, he is nostalgic about his father who served in India in the Uttarakand region in the army during the British era and the demise of his mother and shares many personal details as if he was part of a fiction. Mostly he is sober and very kind hearted. He feels much for the very poor families who entertain trekkers. Their homes are small and reveal their acute poverty. Tibetans are either believers of Bon, Buddhists or believing in both. There are still some black magic practices and tantrik practitioners. Hindus are pilgrims. Mythology is that only the Buddhist monk Milarepa was in a contest with a Bon magician and supernaturally reached the peak hiking seated on a beam of light. Over decades, many have perished in the avalanches and none goes up now. Padmasambava, Avalokitesvara and Dalai Lama are the most revered seers for the Buddhists. Air burial is an age-old Bon practice, but too crude for the remaining part of the world. The dead body is cut into several pieces and the bones broken meticulously for the vultures to devour. Any tiny part of the corpse that remains will hamper the soul’s freedom from rebirth. God of death Yama is common for all the three religions Bon, Hinduism and Buddhism. A pilgrim of Bon faith shares his wife with his brother. Leaving something on the mountain and taking a small pebble are the matters of faith. Many boulders are draped with shawls or other clothing. During the Cultural revolution many monasteries were destroyed and Tibetan Buddhists could rebuild only very few. Most of the pilgrims have little experience or exposure to hiking in severe desert conditions and minus temperature. Among the dead only Indians’ corpses are flown back home. The pilgrims prostrate to the mountain frequently as they do the circle around it. The faith and piety of the frail men and women mellows the trekker author.
If any writer carries a notion she is good at travelogue, the book will show the flow of narration from the depth of the heart that eclipses any other work and this book stands out on its sound research too. On the front wrapper John Simpson’s blurb reads, “I would rather read Colin Thubron than any other travel writer alive.”
Manohar Grandhi (on I am Enough) : This is a typical book by the author on the topic of how mind works. She talks about how most of the people come to her treatment and identify the 3 categories which they fall into. The book gives a lot of examples from her client case studies. The one thing that I really liked is the suggestion of why you should be doing the most difficult thing according to you as the first thing in the day.
Arun Kumar (on Tejo Tungabhadra) : This novel, translated from Kannada, is about two rivers Tejo in Portugal and Tungabhadra in India. Historical fiction dates back to time during the Vijayanagara empire and sea route to India. Amazing storyline.
Fizza Younis (on Anxious People) : The saddest funniest story I have ever read and I loved every single tragic comedic moment. It’s the kind of story that would make you wonder what you are reading. Until the end, you will be confused and ask yourself, is this a love story? Or is it a tragedy? Maybe there is a happy ending somewhere? There is so much going on that at times, you won’t be able to keep the facts straight. Yet, when it ends and after you have read it, you will feel hollow inside and fulfilled at the same time. This book made me smile and it made me cry. Sometimes, both at once.
There is a bank robber who isn’t a bad person at all, or maybe he is and we don’t know it yet. There is a bridge that has done nothing wrong, but someone in the past jumped from it committing suicide and some people blamed the bridge. There is a police officer whose father is also a police officer and the two don’t get along well even though they love each other immensely. And somewhere, in this small, small town there is a therapist who has no idea what she is doing and maybe she is the one in need of therapy herself. There is a couple about to become parents while trying to remember how much they love each other. Then, there is a couple who had kids and spent many, many years together, but now they can’t figure out how to make each other happy in their old age. A woman who understands too much and a man who probably knows nothing. These are the people involved in a hostage drama. The story is about all of them and how their lives, which started at different points, converge to this one point where they spent a few hours together and were never the same afterward.
It’s a sad story of real-life’s tragedies. A book about real people and their very real problems. It’s about wrong decisions that could ruin your entire life and also about right decisions that still ruin your life. It’s about the economy and the financial markets. It’s about banks that are cashless and buildings that are not homes. It’s about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and also about doing the right things for the wrong reasons. It’s about making ends meet and putting your best foot forward, but it’s also about living on the edge. And not living at all.
So, as I said, you might never figure out the true purpose of this story and what is it all about but you will definitely enjoy reading it. Especially if you are someone who can find humor in life’s miseries. I found this book to be an exceptional read. The fictitious part of it is written very well and the real part is no less amazing. As an economist, I found myself agreeing with the author’s comments about the economy and the financial system that does nothing but makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. And at some point, you got to ask, ‘What in the hell were we thinking?’
I think the reason this book is outstanding is that it’s honest. That’s why I enjoyed it so much and would recommend it to those who are not afraid to pick up something you cannot fit in any known box.
Shavleen Kour (on Attitude is Everything) : This book is based on the theme of change your attitude, change your life.
Dhruva Nalla (on God’s Bubble) : The story is about Aian, a programmer and God and what happens after they exchange places after a conversation.
The book has interesting characters, Aian and especially the god character: if God really comes to earth he would behave in a similar way with calmness. Another interesting character has to be the Karma character, her behaviour reminded be a bit of Bond girl who is there to ruin the hero’s plan, but Karma’s role is more though.
Coming to the plot, I was very much hooked from the first page and it was paced very well like a thriller. Overall I liked the book and it’s worth a read.
(on Lost in Translation) : A Hollywood star, Bob Harris meets a young graduate Charlotte and forming a platonic bond with her. It’s a character driven story exploring themes like loneliness, homesickness and mid- life crisis. A simple story, it doesn’t have much of plot, it follows slice of life approach. This script is worth a read.
- To A Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron
- How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey
- What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
- I am Enough by Marisa peer
- The Warrior Within by Bruce Lee
- Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- IT by Stephen King.
- The Education of Yuri by Jerry Pinto
- Restless as Mercury edited by Gopalakrishna Gandhi
- The 6.20 Man by David Baldacci
- Ambedkar: A Life by Shashi Tharoor
- Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan
- When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle
- The Drawing Game by Anitha Murthy
- Flutterfly by Niveditha Subramaniam
- Learn About Endangered Animals by Zain & Zoey
- An Indian beach by Day and Night by Joelle Jolivet
- A Ballad of Remittent Fever by Ashoke Mukhopadhyay
- You Can Achieve More by Shiv Khera
- Tejo Tungabhadra by Vasudhendra
- The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr Willy Wonka by Roald Dahl
- Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
- Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
- Ashali and the Blue Horseman by Jordan Elizabeth
- Kissing the Right Guy by Christina Herrera
- Women Write Now: Women in Trauma anthology by multiple authors
- The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie
- The Red Palace by June Hur
- The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
- Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
- The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim
- Smart and Casual by Niamh Shaw
- Blue Remembered Heels by Nell Dixon
- The Matchmaker and the Cowboy by Robin Beilman
- The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
- Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
- Curse of High IQ Aaron Clarey
- The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- Tamas by Bhisham Sahni
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller
- The Arts of Seduction by Seema Anand
- Maidanam by Chalam
- God’s Bubble by Kalam Babu and Lavanya Nukavarapu
- Lost in Translation (screenplay) by Sophia Coppola
- The Lives of Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
- Varoodhini by Yandamoori Veerendranath
- Lost in Translation (screenplay) by Sophia Coppola