The not so complicated life of Kunal

Just Kidding... Yours, DestinyJust Kidding… Yours, Destiny by Anirban Das
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the thirty pairs of eyes are spotlighted around him. Even in the uncontrolled chill of the heavily air conditioned conference room inside-he just discovered that he is sweating profusely.
All is for a presentation what he thought is an absolute gem a few minutes back-now he just discovered it is worthless.
All is at stake-his decade old (more than that) to the company-his pride of being a genius of the industry-all!
A king of yesterday is now a mere beggar……what a reversal of fate!
Just kidding….Yours Destiny by Anirban Das is a hilarious account of complex but yet not so complex life of Kunal-the real estate genius. We have termed the fiction as hilarious –but that is mostly due to author’s natural talent of extracting laughter. There are funny moments in our protagonist’s life-no doubt, but his life has followed a sine curve-well, almost it- where a crest has almost immediately followed by a torugh!
We must have all heard about the great American dream. That concept was imported just after recession in America. In every American’s garage-a car and chicken to the dinner table of every American family-it was the brainchild of American president Roosevelt. Small dream-big chase –it was the purpose after all. In the late nineties, the concept of great Indian dream became a part of the chase of young India. Well-it is all due to the economic liberalization. The doors when opened for the world-new concepts are bound to enter. A lad entering the business class sitting area of an international flight with a laptop bag (of course with a laptop) hanging from his shoulder, is all that the dream tells. After all we are poor Indian-how can our dream be as delicious and powerful (it is all about chicken and car after all) as the American one. I am now just unable to recall the person responsible for this idea-it is a sign that I am getting old after all- maybe I need a slice of American dream now.
Now our protagonist Kunal has made a successful stride towards both the dreams. He is the rarest of the rare guys of India who is privileged with driving his own Mercedes-who has an apartment in proper Mumbai (everybody knows now a days what a fortune anybody has to shell out to own a matchbox sized room in proper Mumbai). And we are not sure whether he gets to eat chicken every day-but from the lifestyle he maintains-it is not hard to imagine that the guy is not entirely starved.
If you think Kunal is a don of Mumbai to maintain such a princely lifestyle (India is a land of princes and maharajas)-then I will request you to reconsider your decision once again. Kunalis is not a don of crime-but a don of his field-the real estate. It is another fact thought that real dons from the dark lanes thrive on the real estate field. He is a star attraction of the real estate company where he has worked-or ay least he has that perception. Until his company has been taken over by an aggressive concern and one more aggressive boss and it is the start of the doomsday for our not so young protagonist.
‘I slumped to my chair as defeat was thrust upon me from the jaws of victory. It was checkmate. Harry. If by some miracle, all went well, Harry would be the great leader and if things didn’t fall into place, I would be the fall guy. Harry was pushing me out of the company and ever so subtly.’
If you are a firm believer in the old saying that a smiling dawn replaces a shivering black cold night-then you are bound to fall in love with the story. Simply Kunal has a stumbling luck everywhere- be it is his official life or his personal life. The irony of fate is in spite of his best efforts-his life gets altered-from a high to a low and vice versa. There is where the title seems appropriate-he is a mere puppet at the hand of destiny. Climax and anti climax, twist and turn, future and present-the story is seemingly full of all types of contrasts. Plurals have been used in both the cases-because it is so vivid-that contrast needs to be plural. Take the example of marital life of Kunal. He was happy with his job and office life until he made the blunder of listening to the emotional blackmail of his mother
‘ and what followed was the mother of all emotional punch lines ‘ we have made so many sacrifices to bring you up, and when you ask some happiness, in return, is it such a big demand? We are becoming old……and you don’t even listen to us properly. Will we ever get to see the faces our grandchildren in our lifetime?’ my mother had started shedding copious tears.’
So, started Kunal’s endeavor of finding the girl of her dream.
But it all started with a stumble. The first girl turned out to be an experienced girl-a veteran in the art of love making. Kunal was virtually a novice compared to the truthful lady. And heaven sent him sign to decline the frank, sophisticated, charming…….girl!
For the next girl-Kunal had to fly for a thousand miles, literally. And luckily for him, she turned out to be the perfect bride for him.
Or he had the illusion…….
Life is not the same as we have always envisaged…… is far more complex than our anticipation. And his marriage did not work well.
Back to office-our hero receives two gifts-one is the troubling boss ready to scoop him out at his slightest mistake and another loving caring colleague who will soon be at resonance with the frequency of his mind
It seems that his new boss will tear him apart like a Bengal tiger. In contrast it also appears that it is a matter of days when the arrow of cupid strikes the target.
Fire and ice combination-is not it?

Where the destiny will put Kunal at the crossroad of life?
Anirban has the ability to plunge into the depth of realities of life. He has presented deep philosophical insights of life in a light way.
I have almost forgotten to mention that Mumbai –the vibrant city is present with all its glory throughout the book. Life of the upper middle class Mumbaikars has became alive through the writing of Anirban.
Life is a mirage.
But that illusion makes the life the most beautiful book to read on and on and on…….

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The pitch black dawn….

****: The Anatomy of Melancholy****: The Anatomy of Melancholy by Matthew Selwyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For years there was not a drop of rain in the desert.
But suddenly one day-clouds gathered over the sky-a cool breeze flows-and suddenly there is a splash of rain…..
How a toad who has lived years in the desert without a shower of water will feel?
****.or the Anatomy of Melancholy by Mathew Selwyn is the story of a modern day youth who is in a desperate bid to seek the meaning of life. He is like the toad-who have waited for years for the shower….
But where is the rain?
The flowing wind, the blue sky, the fragrance of spring, the grassy village roads- still attracts him. But life is not the same wild innocence for our protagonist. A cosmopolitan life has made him breathe in the suffocating environment of the modern day world. Like the hurriedly moving pigs as shown in the Charlie movie-he is one of the pigs among the countless pigs thronging the city every day. He is the hollow man-the stiffed man lost in the smog of the city-but sometimes like a splash of shower-the fresh thought crosses his mind
‘There’s a problem here. You’re not draft, you see it, you understand my plight. Shit, we all feel it-it’s in every atom of the world around us, each breath we take more suffocating than the last. The churning silence that is life-the wonderful tangle, the mess of existence. Step right up for the ride of your life, join the bandwagon, come on board. You, me, we’re all in-there is no opt out. That’s our problem; we’re struck firmly on time, rooted in reality.’
Life has been discovered from different perspectives-the meaningless meaning of life has been attacked with sharp arrows of satire. The satire in the book has not come as a deliberate attempt-but came spontaneously. Our protagonist wants to escape from the messy life hooked with social media sites –devoid of reality. He wants to rebel against a life where virtual reality will make you its slave- a life where virtual kiss will replace a lovely pair of wet lips. After all, window of life can never be the digital windows.
Here is no water but only rocks in this barren land. In the words of the poet
‘Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered for distant, over Himavant
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Data: what have we given?’

And where does the root of escape lies. To him-the root of escape lies in the sex-the physical intimacy which is his mantra of freedom. It is for him Freedom from boredom of life-freedom from misery of life-freedom from daily grief, despair that at times threatens to attack our basic existence. To him sex is a quest of discovering a piece of his existence. It may sound philosophical-but it is reality. So sex comes in various modes, in various forms throughout the book-be it lesbian intimacy, be it polygamy, be it some other forms of sex that our civil society may dub as highly unethical. But the reality is that sex descriptions never seem vulgar throughout the whole book-it is so spontaneous, so natural-like a nude study of Ruben!
It is the story of the modern age-where the history is all set to repeat itself. A depression-prolonged, silent is creeping into the minds of the human-making them die a thousand times before their death. Or I may be wrong. It is the story of our times when in every passing minute, in every passing hour, in every passing day human feels silent cold jaws of death-erasing their existence-compels to live a life of ghost
‘Most people don’t need to fear absence anymore-we’re blinded, permanently. There’s no need to suck out the light show that protects us either, inoculation precedes the sickness now. Sedation isn’t an option, it’s a shared reality. Most people don’t see the beauty of the system, how perfect our salvation is.’
Mathew has an incredibly powerful pen-it is not easy to catch the attention of the reader in a novel narrated entirely on first person. A confession of a lad who is addicted with the opium of modern world will flow chill down your spine.
Not thinking about the fate of the protagonist-but thinking about the reader’s fate. Because, that protagonist is a mirror reflection of everybody –his story is everybody’s story.
Where we are heading? Where the vortex of modern times will eventually lead us into?

Will the life complete its circle? Will our protagonist be successful in devising a meaning of life out of the Pandora’s Box that the modern world has opened for us?
Or we have opened it for the modern world……..

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The wonder that was INdia

LegacyLegacy by Mohan Prasad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is not merely a story of a boy-but it is a snapshot of the period of his growth-the time, the history, the culture’ is how you can try to explain ‘Legacy’ by Mohan Prasad in an one sentence expression.
Legacy’ is the perfect name for the book. A nation is born awaking from the sleep at the stroke of the midnight after a long history of struggle for independence-erasing a long history of colonial occupation. But that was just the beginning-tryst with destiny of the country was a mix of hope and despair, joys and tears. Just after independence dreams of millions were shattered-thousands rendered homeless after the line of Radcliffe passed straight through their hearts-bleeding them. It was a journey of nightmare for laths-often trains crossing the borders were found to contain only dead bodies-only past, who were very much alive, very much present when the trains had started their journey. And after partition-it was not an unmixed bliss too. More has to come-there was poverty, there was famine, there was corruption, there was racial discrimination, and there were riots in the name of religion. But there was progress to. India marches ahead in the field of education, science, technology-you name it. And the backdrop of the newly independent country was changing rapidly too-there were rapid changes in almost every aspect-older thought giving way to the newer ones-communist and socialistic ideologies sprouted –religious organizations like RSS started to make a clear cut impact on public minds. Border truce with neighboring countries taught India to become self reliant in the field of defense. In a nutshell-there were signs that India was maturing-taking noteworthy strides towards being a nation in making. It was just like the story of a boy getting grown up-he makes countless errors-countless blunders in his childhood, boyhood, youth hood, adulthood…. In spite of all these errors he makes progress-he grows up-he gets matured. It is pretty much the same story with a big family-there is invisible and visible stress and strains in a family-there are errors in decisions-but there is a bond that sews the family member’s together-like flowers of a garland. ‘Legacy’ is the story of seeing the nation getting matured from the perspective of an individual. ‘Legacy’ is the story of an individual gradually getting grown up, too.
If I say-this is the story of Darshan Swami-who was once lovingly called Dalai by his parents-then thorough injustice will be done to the story. it is not merely a story of an individual-it is also a story of generations- it is the story of traditions that flows like the river Baghmati where the story had first begun-where the little Dalai had his first lessons in the lessons of life from his father. Here the little boy first knew how their family flourished-with dreams and aspirations how the great, great predecessors of the family started their business, how the ups and downs came in their lives. It was like the journey of the pilgrim for little Dalai-down the memory lane, knowing his roots-knowing his destiny. Here from the father –the little boy got his first lessons of history, civics and politics of a young nation-as young as the boy himself-throbbing with excitement, boiling with enthusiasm, leaping with vigor. His father was his first guru (it may seems a little out of context, but today is teacher’s day. Is not that coincidental?)
Every story has a prologue. How can here be exception? Let us take a sneak peek into the story of Shankar-the father of little Dalai. A robbery at their house makes him realize how desperately he needs to protest-in the face of unjust. So he joined a RSS camp-where he was taught the art of self defense. But strength often accompanies arrogance and pride-and he challenged a burly man in mock duet. And as he was no ‘Dharmaraj’, he caused wound of his opponent, breaking laws. And that was his end with RSS. He returned back to his hamlet and never ever came with active contact with RSS again.
The story of Dalai is a story of a boy who loved to fly like a bird under the sky-who loved to live the life at its fullest. At the hostel, they were like lords of wishes. Dalai and gang devised ways to escape from hostel, attend other’s weddings and enjoy lavish meals, steal from the kitchen –just name any devil’s plan and the boys are on their toes. Dalai was at the seventh heaven until his luck ran out one day-he was caught in his act of escape from the hostel. His father was summoned and charge of visiting the brothel was alleged against Darshan. His father knew that the boy had not committed the sin, but
‘shankar stayed back for the night in the hostel’s small guestroom. With the first rays of the morning, they left for Baeshwar. With a heavy heart, Dalai took leave of his friends-the brothers in arms and partners in crime. They would also leave soon, for the summer vacations were due in a week. The sole difference was Dalai wouldn’t return to the same address. In fact, the events that led to Dalai’s expulsion had started some months earlier, before the previous summer.’
But life does not remain static, it is dynamic. So the story goes on and on-and with that Dalai. At the crossroad of life-he meets Anita and life takes a new turn. Life starts to bear a new perspective-a new meaning.
At some point of time-their life diverges .dalai became a spiritual leader and Anita a firm believer in extremist ideologies. But what will become of their dreams? The dreams they once shared together-with new song of hope in their minds.
Destiny plays cruel jokes with men-it makes and it breaks.
Life is the game of making and breaking.
‘Legacy ‘ is everyone’s story-everyone can realize the reflection of his or her traits in the characters-in the hope, grief, joy, sorrow, aspirations of the protagonists everyone can discover themselves. The characters are so naturally portrayed that never the reader will realize that he is reading a fiction-it will rather be a journey of identification. Romance is an essential ingredient of the journey of two protagonists-but it is rather a secondary part.
As we have already discussed that the story culminates around India- the land and the people have been trapped inside the book with all the splendors, with all the contrasts and with all the diversities. However one aspect that is needed to be pointed out that as the time period of the story is rather a long one-from the forties to eighties-the contemporary events make the fabric of the story. However-long dialogues depicting events may be too tiresome for the reader. Only raw facts without any fictional elements might break the rhythm-and sometimes may disturb the coherency and flow of the story.
After all-after finishing ‘Legacy’ the story will echo in the minds of the reader………

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Writing from the death cell…..

Autobiography of a Mad NationAutobiography of a Mad Nation by Sriram Karri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had the opportunity of having a glance at the Autobiography of a Mad nation today. from the blurb and some reviews and also looking at the background of the writer from the back cover – I concluded that it will be another addition to the countless books on the pros and cons of the glorious democracy of India.
The impact was hard when I started it reading a bit reluctantly –at a cosy A.C coach of Kolkata Metro. It was a forty minute journey. I was so much absorbed at the book that if the voice of the announcer announcing the next destination was not unluckily heard by me- I was sure to miss my station. I was sad that it ended when I was in page 60. The story was running at a breath taking pace –the former CBI chief was interrogating a convicted murder and fascinating facts are about to be revealed, then the announcement marred it all. It should be at least two hours journey then I might have plunge deeper into the storyline- god do always plays spoilsport!
To me it was a thriller from the very beginning- the murder mystery started to grip me so quickly that I forgot the outside world almost instantly. To me there was only an innocent boy trapped in a shadowy world-who needs to be rescued……….
The creative mind of the writer is divided into two parts- one part is a critical and analyzing the contemporary political affairs of India starting as early as the days of democracy and ending the journey depicting the communal riot in Gujarat- and the other part created a thriller that can run your heat beat faster.
The prologue of the story started dramatically –confession of a twenty four years old ‘highly intelligent and neurotic, the kind who reads and thinks a lot and begins to assume that their intellect begets them extra rights’ from his death cell awaiting the capital punishment – convicted in rarest of rare case’ of murdering a neighbourhood boy named Iqbal. In a poetically crafted language- a letter written to the President of the republic- the convicted boy has made some startling revelations that is enough to look at the murder story from a different perspective- even raising doubts that the boy may not be guilty at all
“It would be a small inconsequential error of society if they hang me, wrongly, but society given its right to sentence a guilty man to death, must be passionately guarded against even the tiniest of errors in the exercise of hanging a man to death.”
The small piece of evidence that he has attached with his letter could not be neglected- a video footage showing clearly that something was wrong about the justice done to the boy-something is horribly wrong.
The president requested the former chief of the CBI and the Military Intelligence to go for a trail of the murder. The temptation was irresistible for the old sly fox- both the circumstances and motive behind the murder intrigued him and he accepted the challenge.
Let us take our glance away from the murder mystery for a moment- mysteries are meant to be solved-is not it? But let us look at some puzzles that still haunt India. One of the greatest puzzles is the wonderfully worded Indian constitution which has ensured justice- social, economical and political to all the citizens. Again all these rights can be withdrawn- by due process established by law…..
In other words- state has the power to make every right ensured by the constitution- in the name of the sovereignty of the state. Even your right to life is not guaranteed- mockery of justice can deny you of all rights. If you dare oppose what state says-or more precisely what the party in power says- everything that you have can be jeopardised- including your life. an eminent writer turns out a terrorist in a whisker or a human right’s activist can be tagged as enemy of the people if our glorious democracy so desires or……
Or a person can evaporate in the dark of the night- if he dares criticise the single move of the system.
Where lays the difference with the tyrannical rule in the U.S.SR of Stalin or Germany under Hitler?
Glory-glory for the state- even if individual does not have the basic amenities. We couldn’t have the basic needs fulfilled of billions-even we venture into space, make nukes and dreaming of becoming the permanent member of the UN Security Council. In a sharp satirical language-the space saga of India under the regime of Srimati Gandhi put into fire by the death convict

“abroad a Russian aircraft, high up there in space, powered by inventions ranging from electric power, bulb, rockets, computers, telephones, televisions everything from needle to space travel, to none of which we Indians ever contributed, and the words, our India best, penned by poet Iqbal ,who is alive today would be most hated for the Pakistan he conceptualized and helped create.
….the combination was complete. Russian taxi, salutations to a British monarch, Pakistani poet and the great Indian sentiment……we are the best of the world.”
What a great canvas! What a colourful canvas!
Public is a headless monster and who else know the words better than those on power. at the sake of vote bank- man made riots are created by the state power, amid the tears ,griefs and despair of billions run the golden chariot of the privileged few.
Public sentiment is played as a card in this country of insanity- every win in a cricket is cheered by mad crowd- because they know cheering for a private cricket Board is the zenith of patriotism….
And these are done by the honourable men- all honourable men.
Common man witness in helplessness- any protest is ready to be crushed by the state machinery!

For the time being divert our attention to our plagued system and let us return to the storyline. Vidyasagar immediately sprang into action and the study of the footage revealed two figures- and figures sometimes tell something more than they apparently reveal. he goes deeper into the case-and it turned out something more than just a murder of an abnormal youth causing menace in the locality.
The story gets a surprising turn when the murder could no longer be jugged in isolation but has to be linked up with two more murders- those two murders are more meaningful- more meaningful than the killing of Iqbal. And both the cases hawk eyes of Vidyasagar revealed some thing fishy-in the manner of the evidence being produced in courts, the manner in which evidences are tampered with and in the manner in which the convicts were pronounced guilty.
Murder motives sometimes do hide in the past- in the lives of the players, a public school-five close friends- a stage play- all contributing to the missing links of the murder. Not directly linked up- but somewhere they are all interconnected-like the broken pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Well- my dear readers- you too are puzzled-I do suppose.
it has to be because an appealing thriller will make you float in the vortex of probability and improbability. This story has crossed the barrier- because towards the end you will be left with your imagination. You have read it all- suspense is slowly eating you up-you can see some figures in silhouette- but you do not know who the masterminds- mastermind behind the crimes.

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