Dear People, with Love and Care, your Doctors by Debraj Shome and Aparna Govil Bhaskar

2019: 55
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Dear People, with Love and Care, your Doctors
Debraj Shome, Aparna Bhaskar.
Bloomsbury India
2019. Pp – 284
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“Health and healing need faith”
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Inspiring & emotionally overwhelming, this book is important.

The blurb does justice to the book – //a collection of heartfelt stories by doctors & patients from across the globe.. of triumph, empathy, positivity, loss, & sometimes, failure//
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I’m reading this book as my father is ill & me and my family is dealing with doctors, path labs, & other medical technicians. It couldn’t have been a better time. I understand the emotion behind this book & given the circumstances, also feel it deeply.

I have a lot of praise for this one & no complaints, whatsoever-

First of all, the cover is subtle, specially the colors communicate peace and calm, signifying the sanctity of this relationship and & hence, the motive of this book-to revive it.

With the recent increase in aggression towards doctors & strikes in response becoming common, the book becomes all the more relevant.

It brushes a variety of concerns & experiences, making it complete in all senses. Also, what makes this book accessible is that it’s not about doctors as we see as a separate species, all technical and professional. But these are stories of doctors as human beings, as much as we are.

The interactive style of narration, the various shades of doctor patient relationship dynamics & the changing experiences, makes it one inspiring read.

Above all, I believe it is such, such a humble book! It gives you insight into the world of hospitals, trainees, & even experienced doctors, of things gone wrong and of unexpected miracles.
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Ps- I also personally loved the little Did You Know facts at the end!

In a world of faith faltering & mistrust rising high, this book brings in new hope. A 4 on 5!

I recently realised that I read every part of the book- from the blurb, to preface, acknowledgments, forwards and even dedicated to so & so. I probably do it because it makes me feel closer to the author & making of the book in general. Feels like I’m a part of it already.

#QOTD- Do you? What quirky reading habits do you have?

Until then, happy reading

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I also slept with Rashmi Verma: a disappointing read

2019: 53.
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So I had a disappointing reading experience recently.
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I also slept with Rashmi Verma is a typical campus life story, supposed to be full of romance, life, humour and all kinds of fun.

But guess what? It’s not.
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I picked this book because of its interesting cover and the expectation of reading something light, quick, and yet modern at the same time. But the book turned out to be offensive at so many levels.

For one, the narration and writing styles are contradictory. What is told to you at one point just takes a U-turn later in the story. The language is derogatory, and I think unnecessary, heavy vocabulary was used only to cover up the audacity of the story. It just feels like a big misfit. On top of that, there are grammatical glitches. I also didn’t like the pictures with every chapter title. They feel out of place and childish.

With poor articulation and even poorer presentation, this book had thrown its one chance to be the next best perceptive, modern millennial take on college life, friendships, and sexuality.
If I say it one line, I do not feel that the craft of storytelling is given the respect it deserves.

Full of stereotypes and offensive opinions, not just of sexual kind but caste based too, I regret reading this book. And even after closing the book (for good) I can still smell the misogyny on my fingertips.
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A 2 on 5.

The Unprodigal by Manu Dhawan

2019: 52
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The Unprodigal is a story of Aryan – who comes from a ‘rich and powerful family’. And we all know, the richer the family is, more is the drama. Which is exactly what Aryan’s life is (or it’s about to be).

The story begins with the death of Aryan’s grandfather, Aryaman, under mysterious circumstances. It is Aryan’s unique bond with his grandfather that pushes him to uncover the many layers of this mystery.

Read on to find out the tangled dynamics at play behind this mystery. Because what looks simple, almost never is.
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Why I picked this book up? It was the title that interested me. It’s unique and made me question what the book has to offer. And also because the book was everywhere! So the pressure pulled me in, heh.
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My views-

The Unprodigal is a blend of suspense and drama. The author paints a very lucid word picture, which is grammatically sound (something that I appreciate deeply). This does not, however, mean that the plot narration is simple. It is complex and twisted in its own way. It was easy to develop a flow, quite early in the story and there’s one thing for sure- that it won’t disappoint you.
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I’ll give it a 3 on 5. Maybe it’s because the last few books I have read are non-fiction, that I needed this breath of fresh air, a relaxed read. But at the same time, that’s the same reason I’m giving it a 3 on 5, being used to socially and intellectually stimulating reads for a while now.

It’s a decent read, nonetheless.
So if you are trying to develop a habit of reading, or you need a break from serious/ heavy reads on your shelf, or you travel a lot and need something light to consume in that distracting metro, The Unprodigal is the right book for you.
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Until next time!
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K File by Bashir Assad. A brave book on Kashmir!

2019: 51
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K File
Bashir Assad
Vitasta Publications
2019. Pp – 237.
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“The dissent is now labeled as the ‘unfaithful one’ or ‘Kafir’. In today’s radicalised atmosphere if you’re not with them, you’re against them. Then you deserve whatever punishment they prescribe for you.”
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K File is an informative and impressive account of Kashmir and Kashmiris. I choose to call it a collection of precisely woven essays addressing the ‘conflict theatre’ in Kashmir and its implications at local and national level.

The insides of the book jacket and the content page itself will give you a fair idea of why you need to pick this book up. But as a reader, I cannot resist sharing my experience!
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This book points out in a direction that many of us turn a blind eye to. We mostly see Kashmir and Kashmiris at the receiving end of the atrocities (by militants, by the police, and now, by the government). What we fail to understand that some of these explicitly criticised ‘atrocities’ are reactions to the action in the state. Bashir Assad brings to us the backstage scenario – Kashmir not at the receiving end but Kashmir as a starting point.

K File is that side of the story that everyone needs to know, despite our religion, or our nationality or regional origins.

It brings to you a detailed and well researched account of the increasing radicalisation among Kashmiri youth and why. The author explores and explains the many dynamics at play, and in this effort, he brings to us a glimpse of Kashmiri youth, women, educated and the educators and the Kashmiri awaam, in general. He also speaks of the misplaced narratives (political or social/ cultural) in the area, manipulating in all its strength. I’d used the word brainwashing, but Assad has been precise with his description. He calls it ‘poisoning of the young minds’, and I couldn’t agree more.

Bashir Assad gives this ‘conspiracy of silence’ a voice that it deserves.

What Kashmir and its awaam experiences is a collective ‘moral outrage, alienation and social exclusion’, the ‘other’ mentality they follow. And I liked how the book doesn’t stop at ‘why militancy’, but extends itself to understand the nuances of the ‘how’ behind it. It traces it’s origins, in a quest to understand the reason behind its existence.

This book makes you realise that Kashmir today might be a product of political interests, but its consequences are far more social. With the high national importance of this matter, it’s also urgent for us to look at Kashmir with human interests, cultural implications and long term social harms it is capable of.
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However, a liiiitle repetitive and stretched at some points, I did have a difficulty reading it in one go.
Nonetheless, in all its complexity, this is a brave book, indeed. A 4 on 5 and an essential read!

(Also, that one thing I liked the most was the letter written by one Abdul Majid Banday, a Kashmiri settled in London, as posted on 12th January, 2019.)
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One thing I’d like to clarify here, as I’ve seen reflecting in many of your doubts, is that this book is NOT an attack on a religion, but the misuse of it, to lure the young and capable and energetic into becoming young and displeased and armed.
It is the story of the death of hope and belief among the young Kashmiri awaam, and the inculcation of rage and resentment.
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What makes this book and Bashir Assad’s expression more special is that it comes from a first hand experience. He gives us an insider insight. An insider not just as a Kashmiri but also as a fallen victim to the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami ideology. An insider to the pressure of holding arms against the innocents and the struggle to come out of this vicious net.
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And finally, K File makes me realise how we’re incomplete in our knowledge of political, national, regional matters and how our assumptions are, well, just assumptions.

In the past one month, I’ve pleaded everyone to read as much as they can, and I’ll end here on the same note. Read what you believe in. Read even what you don’t believe in. Become an informed citizen. Use reason and intellect to oppose and criticize and don’t let emotions get the better of you. This book might bring you one step closer to that.
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Till then, happy reading!
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The Body Myth by Rheea Mukherjee

2019: 49
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The Body Myth
Rheea Mukherjee
Penguin Publishers.
2019. Pp – 228.
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//All I know now is that I am still alive, and I find grief bothersome.//
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Mira Krishna, recently widowed and just starting to move on from a painful past, lives in the small (fictional) Indian city called Suryam, known mostly for its special Rasagura fruit.
An ordinary woman, who’s found solace in the words of European philosophers and has taken up a new passion- teaching, Mira walks into Sara and Rahil’s life coincidentally, a coincidence that will cost her everything she was, or thought she was.

Read on to find out what fate has in store for these three. Of paths that cross each other and lives that will not be the same ever again.
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Mira asked us to take her story like you would a large pill. “Place it in your tongue and swallow it in one gulp.” And swallow it, I did.

Unconventional and extraordinary is only the most basic praise I can let out for The Body Myth.

The narration is so raw and passionate that you live every word, every emotion. You feel the story as narrated only to you. You become a listener to a speaker who promises you full attention, intention and regard. It feels like a one to one experience, an experience you won’t regret.

It is a fresh take on different kinds of relationships- from friendship, to marriage, to lovers to even that of an ideal father-daughter duo. It also speaks of the unknown limits of our minds and the strength our bodies are capable of, despite the vulnerabilities of human existence.

Not typical in any sense, it’s the kind of book that makes you miss it the moment you finish it.
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#QOTD – Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were missing?

This book is like finding that hidden part in you, the part you can’t put in words, the part of you/ pain in you you didn’t know even existed before someone came and put it into words and suddenly your life is complete.
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There are only a few books in this world that you won’t have to make space for in your heart. They’ll find their way on their own. If you find that comfort in a book, never let it go. I have found it in Plath and Kafka and now in the story of Mira and Sara and Rahil.
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Precisely woven and rich in its text, The Body Myth is exceptional in all its honesty! A well deserving 4 on 5, this one goes on my top 10 reads of 2019.
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73rd Independence Day

This independence day, I write not of the nation but of its people. Of the scars they still carry and of the memories they still live in their minds.

Remnants of Separation by Aanchal Malhotra is one of the books that has brought me closer to the pain and agony of refugees of 1947, to their hurt and their distress. It speaks of the things they carried across the border, and of the comfort that this material memory brings them, a ‘little piece of home’. I thank authors like her, authors like Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chughtai and Khushwant Singh and Urvashi Butalia and many more, that have honoured people’s suffering through their words, giving them voice. I also thank @1947partition for taking me on a beautiful journey, for letting me be a small part of preserving these oral histories, these precious narratives. Even though for a brief period, this association has been invaluable. .
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Coming back to the special occasion today, a historic decision was made 73 years ago. And even after decades of that one night, ‘our tryst with destiny’, we as a nation, we as leaders, we as citizens, and we as human beings are still struggling with the remains of it, and yet many more new challenges wait for us in tomorrows to come.

We’re facing a future, but we are living a history.
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So this Independence Day, let’s pledge to be an informed citizen of this country, socially, politically, culturally and even, economically. But at the same time, let’s keep our reasoning intact and our minds open. Aggression led by emotions does not bring in change. It’s easy to resent than express and argue.
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Till then, read as much as you can. Read what you believe in. Read even what you do not believe in. But read, nonetheless. Make an informed choice and back your arguments with rationale.
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Happy Independence Day, you all :’)
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Who Stole My Job by Sunil Mishra

2019: 48
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Who Stole My Job
Sunil Mishra
Srishti Publications
2019. Pp – 180.
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// Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need. //
~Voltaire
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Creative Tech is one of best IT companies in the country, for years now. It’s at its high when Arvind Shankar is replaced with Marshal Scott as the new CEO, with great tasks ahead of him. It’s only a matter of time now that Creative Tech and the life of its employees will never be the same again. A transformation is visible. But at what cost? Read on to find out.
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The book opens with Satvik Saxena, an employee, getting to know of this new development at his company. As a character, he’s important for us. Sativik is our eyes into Creative Tech. He is our window, offering us a peak into the happenings of the company and their effects on the lives of its employees.
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I have different opinions on this one, as a book and as a story.

Firstly, as a story, I believe that the plot line could have been made a little more engrossing and exciting, softening the technicality and the detailing. And the cover and the blurb, even though is on point in all its honesty, could have used some creativity.

There were a few glitches in the storyline as well. Specially the contradictory nature of the flowery picture painted of the company in beginning as opposed to the evident dissatisfaction of its employees (all this before the new CEO comes into the picture).

Also, some might like the bold highlighted texts that show the new CEO’s vision, but I personally didn’t. It made me feel like I was reading a report or a document than a story.

And finally, the characters could have been built a little strongly, specially the character of Vikas. I feel he’s not just important for Satvik, but us readers too. And by now I think it’s safe to say I liked Vikas’s character much more than Sativik’s.

It’s not Sativik’s narration but the discussion between him and Ajesh and him and Vikas that helps us understand the book better. I would have liked it if Sativik too was more than just as a receiver of all that’s going on in the company.

Maybe it’s because of this that the narration felt slow and sometimes even monotonous. At some points, the author just lost me with the details.

It took me a while to build a flow into this book, but 50 pages or so into the story, I developed interest.
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Otherwise, as a book, I appreciate it for many reasons.

* It provides us with an insight into the corporate world, a first hand experience.

* One part that I liked and found very relevant and would like to mention, was the one in the shift in principal policy of hiring, modifying the larger company dynamics- from ‘earn in dollars and spend in money’ as the growth mantra and motivation for employees to the threat of international hiring.
Issues like these in a growing global market of today are quite relevant. Expatriation, repatriation, IHRM, are budding issues.

* Having studied papers on HR and organisational behavior in my final semesters, I had some background of the technical terms used here like ‘attrition’, ‘acquisition’, etc. but many people might face this problem and a gap would come in understanding.

* Another thing I liked was how the story is not gives us not just an employee’s perspective, through Satvik (and sometimes Ajesh and Vikas) but also goes beyond to the leader’s perspective, the hardships that go into making a company success and the journey, through Marshal’s eyes.

* It also brushes the struggle for a generation that is neither here nor there. Not all in but not all back, either. I don’t know if I make sense, but Who Stole My Job is also a story of this struggle, of people working in a company for more than a decade, dealing and adjusting to new socio-cultural changes around the world, and at times, even feeling betrayed after all the hard work they’ve put in.
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A 3 on 5. Therefore, it’s at least a one time read for everyone, not for leisure but as a insightful experience.
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