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Shiva Trilogy 1:The immortals of Meluha – Amish

I bought this book only at the third try –

First time, when I spotted it in Crosswords at Bangalore Airport, it was the cover which captured my attention – I glanced through the summary and the  review on the back cover – When I read the two line review in the back cover  from Business world “Amish……. is well on his way to becoming the Paulo Coelho  of the east…”, I started contemplating –  Should I drop the already selected “I have a Dream  – Rashmi Bansal” and go for this book –  I may get time only for one  book during the travel…..!!!   Given that Rashmi Bansal was already recommended by Shiva himself (it is my friend’s name,  pun intended though!), I decided for her book.

Second time, I got an offer from a blog community to review the two books of the Shiva Trilogy (second one is “The secret of Nagas”). If I agree to review and post the review in my blog, the blog community will ship  those two books to me free of cost.  I  was tempted but there was a catch –  they  wanted the review to be completed within 15 days…I just dropped this offer, given  that I do not even know if I will like this book to make me read the second one  ….and 15 days is  too short for my speed!!

Third time, we were in Landmark and picking some books on my kid’s birthday…while both the kids were skimming through the rows of book, I  was doing my rounds and saw this book again…the cover continued to seek attention…and then I saw this 3 for 2 offer in landmark………..and this came as  the third one…..though it is reasonably priced at Rs. 195/-, getting something  free makes a feel good factor……and finally I got it.

Given that I got it over a weekend, I started reading it  immediately and at the middle of first chapter, I WAS HOOKED.  Not sure if it was the influence of the  review comparing Amish with Paulo Coelho OR it is the effect of living in a  Temple town of Siva for a considerable part of my life and  being  in the family of shiva worshippers, I took to fancy this setting.  The story is set in 1900 BC, what is the era  of Indus valley civilization.  The  settings are very familiar if you know the history and geography of North  India  –  Mansarovar lakeMount Kailash,  Srinagar, Hariyuppa (Harappa), Mohan jo daro, Karachapa (Karachi?), Devagiri,  Ayodha,  Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi,  Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Sarayu, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Narmada.  The characters are again very familiar  for all who would have heard Indian mythology  –  Siva, Sati, Daksha, Nandi, Lord Ram,  Brahaspathi, Veerabhagu,….

So, what is new?

I think it is the way Amish has treated the subject  –  he  has the right mix of action, love and adventure which is required for a  fiction, used facts from religion and folklore and has the right mix of mythology and history, and then……….the messages for the reader, through the all-powerful character Shiva (which probably gets an edge of advantage over other characters) ….every passage is open to interpretation………and makes it interesting  to  contemplate on the facts  –  Few of the notes from this book depicting the interesting mixture…

SPIRITUALITY:  Siva  himself advocates that, God is everywhere.  When asked about his belief in God, Siva responds “I don’t believe in  symbolic Gods.  I believe that the real God exists all around us.  In the flow of the river, in the rustle of the trees, in the whisper of winds,.  He speaks to all of us all the time. All we need to do it listen.”

“His burden did not feel any lighter.  But he felt strong enough to carry it.”

“They are not evil. They are just different.”

HEALTH AND SCIENCE: When Amish shares the  Oxygen/anti-oxidants theory  (refer “Radical Proposal” by Kathryn Brown in Scientific Americana) it gels so well with the story and the context ….  “  What keeps us alive?  Energy is a fundamental thing to keep us alive.  We use energy  when we do anything.  This energy comes  from food we eat.  Food stores energy, which we can expend in our body.  The conversion of food to energy in our body is done by the air we breathe.  Oxygen in air helps to release energy from  food. The very thing which keeps us alive is also what causes us to age and eventually die.  When oxygen reacts with food to release energy, it also releases free radicals called oxidants which are toxic.  Any fruit left outside rot as the oxidants react with it. We also rust from inside out and age and die.  Body stores food/water – you can survive  without food for few days or few days of thirst will not kill you.  But body does not store oxygen, the most crucial component of staying alive.  The explanation is that body realises that despite being an elixir, oxygen is also a poison.

LOVE:  When Daksha  says  “Man has the intense desire to impress the person he loves most”, it is justified why he is hoping Siva will marry Sati.

WOMAN:  This is a stunner …when even experienced intelligent souls are struggling to understand woman,  this simple definition really fits the requirement well – if only all men understand this secret….”The most powerful force in a woman’s life is the need to be appreciated, loved and cherished for what she is”

SOCIETY:  This is in line with what I went across my mind in the context of marriage Vs Osho’s suggestion.   Amish consolidated it well “What any successfully society needs is “Flexibility with Stability”.  Flexibility is required because every single person has different dreams and capabilities. Flexibility in a society allows change3, so that all its members have the space to discover their true selves and grow to their potential. And if every person in a society achieves his true potential, society as a whole also achieves its true potential. Society must remain stable so that we don’t put each other in a situation of having to fight for survival. People can pursue their dreams only when they are living in a society where survival is not a daily threat.

The lengthy description of some of the events could have been more crispy and would have helped to keep up the tempo……………..Nevertheless,  a  decent book to read!

2 states – Chetan Bhagat

  • Author –  Chetan Bhagat
  • Category – Fiction
  • My rating – 3 on 5

It took me three unfruitful visits to the nearest book shop – “stocks are over, please come after two days!”.  While I was getting disillusioned and decided to make the visit to the largest city book store, my colleague lent the book. 

Given that all Chetan’s books had been easy reads, i started reading this.   Ok, now you can skip the next paragraph, as I just copy and pasted the  previous book’s review as it suited this book review (i am getting influenced about taking easy routes!!)

As always, the typical Typical Chetan Bhagat story – starts with a scene where he gives a first hand narration – brings the feel that the author is sharing his experiences with us – immediately makes us feel that we are part of it….well used technique! And of course, he has the right mixture of the popular ingredients –  love, family, corporate world, sentiments and finally, the established well accepted climax of “they lived happily ever after”!!…………what else you need for connecting to the mass of India!! I got connected!! It was an easy read – not much of a challenge for an average English reader, simple vocabulary 

But, should i say “Chetan did it again!! 🙂 Recommended!!”……………….but i want to take a minute…..

There was something in this book which did make me feel that it could have been handled better  – 

Having read all his published books, i strongly felt that Chetan probably is much more intelligent than just to handle this subject by taking a dig at particular community and their ways of life….sure, he did apologize mentioning that he loves south Indian, but i closed the book with a feeling that he took an easy route…he did not put enough efforts to bring out the best of both communities and highlight the cultural gaps!!!  Not sure if it is the expectation which was built within me after his previous books OR the repeated “stock over, come 2 days later” inputs from the book store OR the fact that this book already went into multiple reprints OR the fact that this book is rated as ‘No 1 fiction’  in the book seller’s stand  –  BUT, THERE DEFINITELY IS A DISAPPOINTMENT!

Nevertheless, a good read!   We expect more from you, Chetan!!

Memoirs of a Geisha

Category  –  Women/Culture/History  ;  Rating – 4 ;  Comment  –  To watch!

The first time I heard about Geisha was from Raj when we were discussing about women’s position in various societies and how the East and West differ in their perception about women power!!   While the general perception is that Western culture gives equal opportunities to women and is more gender inclusive, there is a tremendous awareness and improvement in Eastern cultures on gender inclusivity.   Nevertheless, given the past history and culture, East definitely have to catch up with West.   The reference to Geisha in the discussion was towards the novel  “Memoirs of a Geisha”,which is a novel written in autobiography style.

I added it into my list of  ‘ TO-READ’ books and Geisha was fading from my memory  –  when yesterday I was surfing over the TV channels is when I saw the same title and a movie starting.  I can not resist and as always just spent the time viewing the movie completely without any guilt of unplanned TV time .

Ofcourse, it is a worthy watch!!  The movies moves with the girl ‘Chiyo” and covers her life before and after world war 2.  The portrait of this girl as a Geisha is what probably is the secret of the success of this movie!! Very wise discussions between Chiyo and her big sister tells us  the complex role of a Geisha !!   The story was very realistic and intelligent and moving!!


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