Friday, 29 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW : The Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal

The name Tarun Tejpal is associated with lots of things - be it the sting operations on the key members of the political party BJP when they were in power, his close associations with the Congress party or the latest sexual abuse charge on him by his employee who is not only his daughter's age but also a close friend of his daughter.
What came as a surprise to me is that this man is an author and a good one too. He has written three books till date. The Alchemy of Desire is his first book.
I was halfway through this book when I got to know about the sexual abuse charge on him. This deplorable behaviour of his put a very ugly blot on my impression of this extremely talented author and I was almost tempted to throw away the book. But the avid reader in me would not let me do so. I did finish the book but the initial joy and the continous delight in finding a great read was missing and it was more of a job than pleasure. I blame Mr. Tejpal for taking away my joy.
The Alchemy of Desire is a story about a young man and the love of his life, his wife Fiza, whom he calls Fizz. They are madly in love with each other and the deep intensity of their mutual desire keeps the relationship alive inspite of the small skirmishes and disagreements. They are not rich in the monetory sence but they are extremely rich when it comes to love, passion and desire. He is a journalist by profession but in heart, he is an author, who is trying to write something special. Their life is running through its smooth course till they suddenly become owners of a bungalow in the foothills of Himalaya. It is here that they come across a trunk full of diaries while renovating the house, which changes the very equation of their relationship. The diaries belonged to an English lady who was the original owner of this house. The protagonist gets totally involved in deciphering the diaries and as a result he starts distancing himself away from Fizz. His life changes completely as his obsession with the diaries increase. The story ends with the protagonist understanding himself better and also as to what matters most in his life. The story ends on a positive note.
Tejpal as an author has immense talent. He is in love with all his characters,  be they be small or central. The way he gives them physical, emotional, mental, psychological traits is commendable. He brings all the characters to life by his beautiful narrative. It is a sheer delight to read.  He writes about the different eras with such detail and thought that it brings every scene alive in the reader's mind. I did find the book a tad too descriptive in certain places but overall it's worth a read.
The only thing which stops this book from being the perfect one is Tarun Tejpal himself and am very disillusioned by this whole goa episode.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW : The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie

I was in the 8th standard when I had gone on a ten day treck to Sikkim. It was there in the beautiful landscapes of Sikkim that I first got introduced to Buddhism. We had gone to visit a Buddhist monastry on our way to Gangtok and I was just spellbound by the tranquility and peace that was prevalent there. It was a surreal experience for us and the feeling still stays with me. Till date I associate Buddhism with that same tranquility and calmness and a deep sence of peace.
Though I am not a vert spiritual person nor a cat lover, this book appealed to me on some inner level. The author,  David Michie is a well-known author whose books Buddhism for Busy People and Hurry Up and Meditate are bestsellers.
In this book Michie talks about the teachings of Buddhism through the perspective of a cat. The story begins with the Dalai Lama adopting a tiny kitten and taking her to Jokhang, the beautiful sanctuary of the Dalai Lama himself, in Dharamshala. Here the kitten encounters different types of people who through their experience with the Dalai Lama undergo a deep cleansing of their souls and are able to let go of their negativity and embrace life with all its positivity. Michie talks about conquering one's anger or fear of the unknown through the teachings of Buddhism.
I could very well relate to the teachings of Buddhism which are so nicely explained in this book. This book is not about preaching Buddhism but talks about how we can change our lives for the betterment following some simple Buddhist principles. Wish to enjoy happiness and the wish to avoid suffering are the two basic wishes of all beings. So if we can be considerate about the suffering and happiness of others and ensure that none of our actions adversely affects others, we can live a happy and contended life.