Not Just Another Story by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey

IMG_20191116_105004_307.jpg

2019: 73

.

Not Just Another Story

Jhimli Pandey

Alephbook Co

.

Running down since generations, here’s the story of a profession most people don’t consider as one- prostitution. It’s a story of these ‘professionals’, across time & space & beyond many more dynamics, struggling to find their way. It’s a story of giving in but not giving up. It’s also a story of lost hope sought in the darkest places.

.

Not just Another Story is a story of fate bringing a young, enthusiastic girl from East Pakistan to narrow alleys of Sonagachi, the infamous red-light area of Kolkata. It moves three generations, offering deep, offering overwhelming insights into the vicious cycle of prostitution. Reminds me of a movie named Laxmi, also a story of a young girl coerced into this profession.

.

Heartbreaking & filled with harsh realities, this book will stay. Even though a work of fiction, I believe the story of Saraju, Malati, Laxmi holds true for a lot of women out there, only with different names, different faces.

.

However, the story feels rushed at a lot of points & doesn’t let the reader stay with one emotion for long. The characters too felt contradictory at times. Malati going all impatient & rebellious & constantly irritated with her mother, Paltu & even her own daughter to being polite & consoling with her women was a hard to digest description for me. ‘Uncharacteristically gentle’ at times.

.

I just believe that the book had a great, great potential & it didn’t deliver as much as it could. Nonetheless, the story or should I say stories, are heart wrenching. A window to the world we are not aware of, & by all conscious means, do not even mean to be. Sitting in the comforts of our lives, oblivious to this side of life, many will be left touched by this book, which makes it even more important to have been delivered well. The ‘how’ of all the horrors that the books speaks of could have been addressed deeply & in detail. Like the transition from resistance to acceptance of this new life thrown at women or being allowed to keep a pregnancy.

 

All in all, it’s a 3.5 on 5 for me

.

#QOTD what’s last book you read that could have done a lot better than it did?

.

#bookstagramindia #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #review #bookreview #readdreamrepeat #blogger #bookblogger #delhibookstagrammer #indianblogger #igreads #delhiblogger #unitedbookstagram #delhibookstagramfam #bookishfeatures #booksofInstagram #bookphotography #readersofig #delhifambam #socialissues #genderissues

Small Town Shop by Amay Saxena

IMG_20191106_113550.png

2019: 71

.

🍁

.

Small Town Shop

Amay Saxena

Pp- 30.

.

// It wasn’t shocking to him that people overlooked lies; they cajoled perpetually to believe ideologies presented before them //

.

Small Town Shop is a story of a small town’s biggest, soon too be second biggest shop in the town’s owner named Akela. A common man turned politician, tasting the bitterness of the political world. Read on to find out what becomes of him. Will he be a victim of this game, or come out a survivor?

.

In one line, this story is anything but typical. The theme picked up is, but the style of narration, the way of presentation chosen and the final outcome doesn’t remotely resembles any other story of the same genre.

 

It has one of those post-modern narrative style vibes to it and I loved that about it! Something as simple as the narrator rushing into the story can symbolise the urgency with which he speaks, the urgency, the need of sharing the story. Even the name of the character – Akela – leaves me seeking a metaphorical deeper sense behind it.

 

I don’t know if it was deliberately thought of, but another think I liked was how despite of other characters and a backdrop, the story came back to only one person. It centred around Akela, no matter what, leaving all characters important only in relation to this one and not as individual elements. Some of them were even left unnamed for who they were was not as important as how they’re connected to Akela. From the small town, to the opposition party to straight to ‘his first wife’ and ‘his second wife’ – all rooted in one reality. I don’t know about you, but I really liked this about the book.

 

I also liked the little experimental blend of genres the author has tried his hands at. From political to suspense and a hint of gothic, it was a good attempt. It all fit in the natural flow of the story and did not feel out of place or imposed.

 

The title too is interesting, again, I believe, with a larger motive. Because politics is nothing but a shop, found in every corner of this country, from smallest, remotest to the biggest, most advanced.

 

Short, crisp, but quite an impactful read. A 3.5 on 5!

.

#QOTD – what’s the shortest book you’ve read?

.

#bookstagramindia #bookstagrammer #delhibookstagrammer #indianblogger #igreads #delhiblogger #unitedbookstagram #delhibookstagramfam #bookishfeatures #bookporn #booksofInstagram #bookphotography #readersofig #delhifambam #shortbooks #politicalreads #shortstory #differentbooks

 

 

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

IMG_20191102_000805_802.jpg

2019: 69
.
🍁
.
You Beneath Your Skin
Damyanti Biswas
Simon and Schuster India
2019. Pp – 387
.
// Rahee na taaqat-e-guftaar, aur agar ho bhee,
Toh kis ummeed pe kahiye ke arzoo kya hai? //

A gripping tale of crime, suspense, betrayal, trust, hate, even love! The story of a horror of a crime unfolding in the city. Amidst all this turmoil is the story of Jatin & Anjali, the two it all boils down to. But why? No one will know. Or will they?
.
Right from the beginning, there wasn’t a single dull moment, the flow of the story is great. The narration, with its holistic approach, perspectives from all characters is a add on! Simple yet twisted, it’s a modern day story that attracts your attention & keeps it. It will surprise you with its unexpected twists & leave you wanting more. The title & cover page, a bonus treat!

What I liked the most was how every character is given its own time & space to unfold, the space they deserve. None of them is sidetracked or neglected. I liked how the characters maintain their ground, stick to their values, are rooted in the image they display. Not once do they contradict themselves as fictional characters usually do, making them all the more real and relatable. Hence, easy to visualise!

Also, it’s so structured, damn how!? Well thought of, planned, articulated, this book would make a great movie. It must! Everything, every single piece of information in the story fits perfectly, sooner or later in time. But nothing, not a single thing is extra & I loved that about it!

Aaand, I loved how there’s so much Ghalib throughout the book. His snippets add so much colour to the story.

The only thing I feel could have been better was the ending. Though so real, it hurt, having the privilege that stories do, fiction can be our escape from reality. I’d expected a dramatic end, but nonetheless, the author chose to keep it close to reality and I couldn’t respect her more for this decision. The point is, it delivered & greatly so.

A brilliant book, delicately woven story & such a great reading experience overall, it’s a good 4/5!

Ps- (completely irrelevant but I loved it & I’ll say it) Never have I ever, in all the books I’ve read, everrr seen a traffic signal described as ‘armless scarecrow with a single red eye’. Damyanti Biswas, you have my heart for this.

Absolute Delhi: Hidden Gems of Delhi by Adil Ahmad

IMG_20191024_232910.png

2019: 67
.
🍁
.
Absolute Delhi
Adil Ahmad
2018
.
// The relics of Delhi’s many pasts can be found in myth & tradition, in history books, but most of all in the monuments that have been left behind by builders down the age //
.
Some popularly known, some lost, some hidden. Delhi is such a blend of cultures, flavours, stories that it’s hard to fully know her yet harder not to want to. It’s important to know that behind the modern hub that the city’s become today, there is a vast, rich history that it carries, of the lives that lived here, of the places they built.
.
This book is an attempt to revisit & bring out those hidden treasures to light. The approach too is structured, beginning from a wider lens, coming down to six specific sights & why.
.

The author paints for us a visual treat We travel along with his words & join him in his experience. The way he’s added emotion in his writing, it’s simply beautiful.

What I liked the most was the fact that the book is not just about what, but why. I loved the extra bits & pieces the author shares. The how-to-get-there section is the warmest sweetest little thing in the book!
.
The only thing that could have been better was the title. I somehow feel it doesn’t justify the content, with its lack of ‘absoluteness’ of the city. Delhi has many more such places & many more such stories to be told. This book’s more of a window into our lesser known heritage sights & not really a full door, if that even makes sense.
A drawback for some readers could be its non-fiction content, which is something unlike a story, despite its rich, interactive narration. Nonetheless, the book has a lot of insights to offer and is an enjoyable read. It’s brought me closer to my own city! A 4/5 for me.
.
I’m embarrassed to share that I’ve visited only one of these places, Agrasen ki Baoli, that too yeaaars ago, despite having lived here all my life. I didn’t even know about Phool Waalon ki Sair!
.
I also read another book on Delhi’s Baolis recently & discovered a liking for this genre. So this book is a step forward in my reading journey!
.
#QOTD – what do you love to explore the most in your city?

The Girl with Blue Eyes by Vaiibhav Nigam

IMG_20191021_104350.png

2019: 66

.

The Girl with Blue Eyes

Vaiibhav Nigam

2019. Pp – 203.

.

(for the blurb, refer to my p revious post)

.

This one here is a decent attempt at complex plot twists, trying to breathe some life into the typical romance novels we read these days.

.

I don’t usually read much of this genre but I picked it because the essential twist it promises- the mysterious girl with the blue eyes. Who grabs our attention as much as she grabs Armaan’s attention. However, it didn’t succeed in sustaining it. I had expected to be surprised more than I was, to be full of emotion, more than I was & to be filled with warm romance, more than I was. The storyline is promising. I’m not sure about other reading audience, but I think a little better presentation could have done wonders for the book. Suspense built up right in the beginning in the prologue is probably one of the reasons of my high expectations, hence, higher disappointment.

.

Somehow I feel that the overwhelming emotional response that author had expected couldn’t come out as a reality as strongly as it was meant to be

.

Also, I felt that the story doesn’t give enough time to one emotion at one point and escalates a little too soon to the other. This feeling began from the prologue (from suspense to romance to anger and back to suspense within a page) itself & accompanied me in bits, almost till the end. My recommendation to the author is to let the emotions breathe, let them sink in.

.

But I’ll give you this, it’s a quick, easy read & if you ignore some of these setbacks & skip that afternoon nap, you’ll end up enjoying a light read! You won’t have one dull moment.

.

One thing I liked the most was that the blurb promised a story of Armaan and the struggle to come his way and why, and the story sticks to it. There’s a main character, he has a backdrop story, an unexpected twist occurs in his life, and there are consequences to follow. Simple and neat.

.

Also, I’m not sure if others mind it as much as I did, but a new-paragraph-after-every-sentence kinda narration didn’t suit me. It hampered my flow.

.

A 3/5 for me

.

#QOTD – How do you form your opinions around debut books? What’s your criteria?

 

Circus Folk & Village Freaks by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

IMG_20191012_103338530.jpg

2019: 65
.
🍁
.
Circus Folk & Village Freaks: 18 Twisted Tales
Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal
Vishwakarma Publications.
2018. Pp – 152.
.
// Hear ye, hear ye, this twisted tale
Of strange fortune and its dervish gales. //
.
Aparna Sanyal brings to you 18 tales, twisted, indeed.
And for this mighty wordsmith, songs of glory and praise, have we!
.
(ignore my not so subtle attempt at poetry and focus on the review, thenks)
.
There so many things I love about this book and nothing that I didn’t!
*One, these stories reminded me of those folk tales I grew up reading, but only more deeper, darker, better, funnier and so much more graceful.
*Two, I loooved the writing format and the fact that they sound like sweet bedtime stories (which they’re not by the way) I wish to sing to my children (and definitely not for children). Just a metaphor.
*Three, they are so so simple and delicately written, despite the dense themes they carry.
*Also, I felt this underlying presence of things, people, events, places that go unsaid in our daily lives, being acknowledged by the author and that filled me with emotion, page after page.
.
I would love to see more of this writer, anytime, anyday. She’s brought in a freshness to my shelves with her exquisite word play and artistic narration and it’s worth holding on to!
.
I leave you with my favourite couplet from the collection, which also happens to be the last one –
// In stars and sun spots and swirls of infinity bending,
In this vast cauldron of knots, this cycle never ending. //
.
I personally read very less poetry, but this one’s a blend of storytelling and poetry and well, every once in a while, books from genres you don’t pick, end up surprising you. And this one was a pleasant surprise, indeed.

#QOTD- Tell me about that one book that changed your perception of a genre you didn’t prefer much!
.
And Ps- the cover is such a sight, and the illustrations! I’m proud of having this book on my shelf, heh.

.
A full 5 on 5 🌟!
.
#bookstagramindia #bookstagrammer #delhibookstagrammer #indianblogger #igreads #delhiblogger #unitedbookstagram #delhibookstagramfam #delhifambam #bookishfeatures #poetry #uniquebooks #creativenarration #readdreamrepeat #review #bookreview

Delhi Heritage: Top 10 Baolis in Delhi by Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

SquarePic_20191008_21434196.jpg

2019: 64

.

Delhi Heritage: Top 10 Baolis

Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

Niyogi Books

2019 Pp – 170

.

As the names suggests, this book here is a collection of top 10 Baolis in my city, Delhi.

For those of you who do not know what Baolis mean, they are wells or pools constructed for collective use. Also called Stepwells, they cater to various water management techniques.

Here’s a brief on what all the book has to offer and why you should buy this one!

* The idea of Boalis – what, why and how. From their structure to their built, architectural significance, everything in sync with the climate, the time and space they belong to.

* The historical importance of planning and management of issues like water management, issues that are still relevant (in fact, issues which are relevant today more than ever)

* The stories these ancient symbols carry, the journey they speak of

* And most of all, I guess it is the scientificity, the accuracy and the vision that our ancestors had the gift of, that is to be appreciated most about this book. For it brings to us not just historic places to visit when you’re in town, but the reason why they’re there at the first place.

.

SquarePic_20191008_21441715.jpg

And here’s why I loved it-

 

I have always been fond of history, for it brings me closer to people, places, events. Closer in terms of knowing why what had happened had happened (idk if I’m making sense, but I hope you guys understand).

 

I’ve always found myself sneaking in a few minutes of search before I visit any place. I’ve always found myself strolling through small write ups on stones and marbles, the ‘about section’ of a place of cultural and historic importance.

 

It is a matter of not just pride that I live in a city so rich in heritage but also of guilt that despite having been born and brought up in the city, I have only heard of these places and not visited them. Some of them, I didn’t even know of. Take for instance, Gandhak Baoli, which is one of the mentions in the book. Reading about it, where it is located and how it got its nickname, I was amused of not having known.

I thank Niyogi books for reminding me of the value they carry and for motivating me to plan my next outing dedicated to one of these Baolis!

.

(Delhi has many more Baolis and the book offers great insight into top 10 of these structures)

.

Aesthetically pleasing, this book is an essential read for the traveller/historian/explorer in you!

.

#bookstagramindia #bookstagrammer #delhibookstagrammer #indianblogger #igreads #delhiblogger #unitedbookstagram #delhibookstagramfam #bookishfeatures #bookporn #booknerd #bookstagramfeature #delhi #delhihistory #historicalmonuments #baolis #touristplaces #travel #delhiheritage #review #bookreview