The Reluctant Detective – Book Review…

The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral

The title of the book is very apt – The “Reluctant” detective.

A thirty something housewife, a school gate mom and a rich, fashionable woman – that’s how Kanan Mehra, the protagonist of the book, is. This book somehow the inverse of what general book is. In general, the author becomes the character in the book. But here, the character reflects more on the life of the author itself.

Kanan Mehra was a working woman, now a full time mom to Kabir and what a normal rich woman is, an avid shopper and fashionable. Attending lunch parties and oh, not to forget the kitty parties. She stays in plush apartment and society where there are not one but two murders. Kay, being the gossip Queen (self bestowed honor) decides to solve the murder mystery of the woman who lived in the same building and of a man whom she hardly knew.

On hearing or reading the word “Detective”, you would expect some investigation, some thrilling revelations etc. But there are more parties and out station trips, kitty parties and gossiping involved. The story starts with jogging, where Kanan Mehra wears some fashionable and costly cloths, lycra or some material. The book kind of describes the author’s own life like what her son does and what she expects from spouse, what she wears and what fashion statement she makes. In between all this, the author sometimes thinks of the murders and what can be done to solve those.

But then what I felt is the book is true to its title, The “Reluctant” detective. The author being a housewife, wife to a rich man and mom to a brat (that’s how she addresses her son) it’s obvious that the book talks about fashion, cloths, make up, kitty parties, zero figure, lunches, expectations from spouse etc. So I think the author (Kiran Manral) has done quite a good job. Her fashion vocabulary is something a girl will like to go through and have.

The book could have been better, had the author tried to reduce the daily make-up and getting ready, what to wear and what to say things and included more of some “real” investigation in the story line. I mean, before going to trip (Kay Mehra and family goes for a trip in between) the murder is a mystery and after coming back from the trip, just after 2 days, the murder mystery is mysteriously solved. That part doesn’t add up pretty much.

Overall, the book is good read for those who like the fashion world, girls especially. And okay read in general.

Lessons from Past…

Indian mythology is full of miracles, supernatural and marvelous phenomenon, which cannot be justified with the common knowledge of Science. But every tale (not almost but every) has something or the other to teach us. The teachings mostly being about moral and ethics, what is righteous and what is wrong. In short how to behave as a human being. Indian mythology is overwhelmingly full of such tales and incidents.

One of such incident is of Sant Jñāneshwar.

Sant in Marathi means saint. He was a 13thCentury (1275-1296) saint, poet, philosopher and much more. His

Sant Dnyaneshwar

contribution to Marathi literature and overall history of India is something inexplicable. He wrote a commentary and critic on Bhagvad Geeta, known as Bhavartha Deepika, at the tender age of 15. Today, that Bhavartha Deepika also known as Dnyaneshwari is considered a milestone in Literature World. He had one elder brother (Nivrutti – who was also his Guru/teacher) and 2 younger siblings (Sopan and Mukta).

Now he (Dnyaneshwar) being very pious, soft spoken, ever calm and composed, often did some or the other miracles like, asking a male buffalo to read out the Vedas loudly and cooking bread on his sister’s back etc. But the most talked about miracle is of he and his siblings sitting on a wall and making it fly.

The story may be true, may not be true. I, however, believe that the story is true. But keeping aside the practical part of it, we have a huge lesson to be learnt from this incidence. It often happens that we get into the fight of deciding whether it is correct or not and always keep aside what we need to learn from it.

Coming back to the story, there was another learned person and a saint himself named Changdeva Maharaj, who was a mystical yogi. He had control over the “Classical Elements” and used to perform supernatural acts with his this control.

It so happened, that Changdeva Maharaj came to know about Dnyaneshwar and his sibling’s prowess over Vedas and wanted to test them. So he sent a blank note/paper to Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. On receiving this blank paper, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and his siblings started laughing at this gesture and wrote back a 65 verse quintessence on Vedas back to Changdeva Maharaj. Changdeva Maharaj, though being highly learned and so much powerful, couldn’t understand anything out of those 65 verses and decided to meet these children in person and show the greatness and power of his. So he rode a huge tiger and carried a venomous Cobra as a whip. Dnyaneshwar saw a big procession coming towards their village and spotted Changdeva Maharaj riding a tiger. These siblings then sat on a wall and made it fly towards Changdeva Maharaj.

Sant Dnyaneshwar humbles Changdev Maharaj

Changdeva Maharaj was stunned to see an inanimate wall being used as a vehicle. His false pride and ego was crashed in an instance and he suddenly alighted from the tiger, sat on his knees to salute Sant Dnyaneshwar. He then became one of the disciples of Sant Dnyaneshwar.

Lesson:

Just because you are older than others, doesn’t mean you are of higher stature. (Dnyaneshwar was just 12-13 years of age and Changdev Maharaj was more than 50 years when this incident took place.) As we know, capabilities bring more responsibilities. The more learned you are the less should be your ego and false pride. Rather, a learned person should never have an ego. Changdeva had so much power, but he had ego, and that was the worst part of it.

Ego kills the knowledge you have. Too much boasting on knowing something is very harmful. You are not the only one who knows things; there will always be someone else who knows more than you. If we have to take recent example, we can think of Sachin Tendulkar. Even after spending 23 years in the game of cricket, he is not complacent about his batting and playing prowess.

In short, a learned man should always be humble 🙂

Will A Vacation Help???

She really needed a vacation, to cool herself off”, said Isabelle.

That gives rise to the question in my mind and that is,

Do vacations transform a person?

I mean seriously, whether a short or long, do vacations transform a person? I don’t think. A good change of moods, stress buster – yea, that’s what vacations will do. But transformation has to be from within. Also it needs deliberate steps to be taken.

The next question of mine to Isabelle was, “Will the vacation change Maria’s attitude?

Maria always has these fights with her colleagues. Let the issue be a small one or big, doesn’t matter. It’s like her way or highway. She won’t budge even if her team mates intervene. She has this ego, attitude problem and she doesn’t require any reason to have fight with anyone.

If she doesn’t like anyone, she simply doesn’t like that person. No reasons, so explanations. You ask her what’s her problem with someone and she will give you some weird reasons, which cannot be reasons at all. But that’s how she is.

But behind her blasting mouth, harsh heart and intimidating attitude, there lies the insecurity. I think she is insecure about something. That can be because, she is still single and girls of her age are already in relationship or are about to get married. That can be because, she thinks that she will lose the grip on people and they won’t listen to her again.

Whatever the reasons are, the central question here is, will vacation change her attitude? I don’t think so. Because a small/big vacation will distract her mind from the day-in and day-out blasts she has. It will soothe her a bit, but the day she is joining the office back, the thoughts will again start lingering in her mind.

“I need to square things with her. My defense will be this. If she says something, I will give her befitting reply now”. This and sort of things will start running in her mind again. And in another couple of days, she will back to the square one. And the same story will repeat again.

What she really needs is NOT vacation, but change of attitude. And that needs to come from within. Then only she will be able to let go such incidents at work place and be a friendly to all.

Disclaimer: The character’s names in the setup are fictitious. But the setup, well, is very much real and true.

The Hungry Tide – Book Review

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Book CategoryModern Fiction

Rating4/5

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If you want to feel the Tide Country, Sundarban (on boundary of West Bengal and Bangladesh)

If you want to know about river dolphins,

If you want to know about historical tales of tide country, the legends,

If you want to know different personalities,

My advice would be, read “The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh.

There is more to the book than I have enlisted above. The writing skill of the author, the story telling ability and also the ability to weave the different stories beautifully into one another, are some other highlights of the book.

The book sketches a complete picture of the tide country in front of the readers. The different rivers, their names, the history behind naming them so, the mangroves, the islands, people on the islands, their daily confrontations with nature and animals – all presented in a beautiful way.

The book has many protagonists. The centres of attraction though are Kanai and Piya.

Kanai is a translator in Delhi. He knows quite a few languages with odd combinations. His uncle and aunt live in Lusibari (one of the islands in Tide country). He comes to visit Lusibari and meets Piya while traveling from Kolkata towards Lusibari. The womanizer (that he thinks he is) in him awakes and tries to get close to Piya. But their journey together ends very quickly, though with a promise to meet again. Kanai asks Piya to visit Lusibari.

Piya is a scientist – Cetology (a branch of Marine Mammal Science that studies around 8 species of Whales.) She was to visit Tide Country for her research in potable water Dolphins. She comes to Lusibari and while coming only she gets introduced to Fokir.

The story jumps from present time to past time (time of Nirmal – Kanai’s uncle) very efficiently and swiftly. The story then opens various petals of relationships between humans, humans and nature etc. It also opens pages from the near and distant past. It is a fine blend of practical life the islanders live and the superstitious (not exactly superstitious but having faith in things which Atheists don’t believe in) they have for Bon Bibi (protector mother for the Islanders)

The book catches your attention and mind from the very beginning. And there isn’t a single page where you would be allowed to think that the story is becoming sluggish or losing its plot. Right from Page 1 to Page 402, you will be living, actually living, in the Tide Country. That’s my word.

A must read book, if you ask me 🙂

Somebody that I used to know…

I was surfing on the internet and came across this song. I am sure you guys will like the song. The band Walk of the Earth has tried something new in this song. All the 5 band members have played the song on single (one) guitar. Amazing combination, awesome coordination and nice music too. Kudos.

Besides the song is also captivating and you can relate to (those who might have had heart break) 😛

Lyrics

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
I told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end
Always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Somebody
I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Somebody
I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
I used to know
That I used to know
I used to know
Somebody

Book Review – The Thirty Nine Steps…

The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan

Book TypeCrime and Mystery

Rating2/5

I came across this book from a list of “BBC Top 100” books. Somehow I felt like reading the book and I started the process. I haven’t read any book from John Buchan, so thought I would try him.

Let me tell you in the beginning only. The book isn’t “that” fascinating, but still you can go and read for it has some nice old school English phrases and speech techniques. The book is a little fast at some point and a bit too much sluggish at the other. But it still catches your interest and you go on reading it. There is mention of some places in Early London. And if you are not aware of the different places (as I was not while reading it) you might find yourself lost in some paragraphs. But that doesn’t mean the writer should not choose the unknown places. What I feel is the writer wasn’t able to take the readers to the places he is describing in the book (at least he wasn’t able to take me there).

The story is a suspense story and revolves around one character – the protagonist, Mr. Hannay, who is pretty bored of his normal, dull routine and feels there should be some adventure in his life. One fine day, he finds himself amidst the life threatening adventure. A spy comes to his home (why, I don’t know. Why he chose Mr. Hannay is something I too couldn’t figure out) having some information that Karolides will be killed. The spy dies after some days and his adventure begins.

The running away from his home, being sought after fugitive and trying to find the solution while saving his own life – this is what the storyline is like. The book takes speed at some point and lags somewhere. But some of the incidents explained are really good and with nice twists.

But let me tell you frankly, if you are accustomed to read the suspense stories from the likes of Sidney Sheldon or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, then this suspense story will be a bit disappointing for you. Because these two people have upped the standards of twists and suspense so much that this story might seem to you like a normal one and you might say at the end, “Good Try at suspense story writing”.

At least that’s what I said 🙂