Sunday, July 19, 2020

Wuhan 2020 - Vacation Gone Wrong in China by Murtaza Akbar (Book Review: 3.25*/5) !!!

22nd Book of 2020!

So, almost in every book review that I have written post March 2020, I have somewhere mentioned about lockdown or isolation phase. But I never knew that within this phase itself, I shall get an opportunity to read a book that’s written completely based on Corona pandemics outbreak in China. The title of the book is “Wuhan 2020 - Vacation Gone Wrong in China” and it’s written by Murtaza Akbar in around 150-pages. The author has cleverly created a plot which talks about how a family whose life was very much sorted ended up being in the Wuhan city and got trapped in the outbreak of the pandemic which affected their mental state for the period when they were kept in isolation in a foreign city.

The book is short and I must say that’s a good decision considering that people might not want to read largely about the pandemic as they have already been suffering the same since last 6 months. The book starts like a Travel log where the author describes how the family is going through from one place of China to another based on their itinerary and provides vast description of each and every spot that they are traveling. Later on, in the book, the topic of Coronavirus enters and for some time, the book gets devoted in spreading the information about the disease and the situation in China. So basically, the first half speaks majorly on these two events hence frankly saying, I couldn’t enjoy the story till then.

But then starts the 2nd half of the book and author takes us into a lot of backstories and flashbacks. It is then that the magic happens and you start liking the story and reading it fast and turning pages to know what happened next. Author here discusses how the couple met and got married. Author also talks about how they landed up in China and how important this visit was for them. Even their personal family backdrops are given which is quite interesting. Finally, comes the climax which I believe could have been more unpredictable or dramatic but still, story ends on a good note.

Talking about the characterizations, the characters of Adnan and Angelina is so beautifully crafted and the way they are described makes you imagine them somewhere around you. The intimate scenes between them are also beautifully written without any vulgarity imposed for the sake of selling the book. Similarly, the other supporting characters such as Rizwan are nicely crafted. Author has shared few poetic lines in start and end of the chapter which are thought-provoking many a times. Similarly, the conversation that takes place between the couple in the flashbacks are very beautifully written. The love story part of the book is what majorly impressed me more than the pandemic part.

Now talking about the drawbacks of the book- I must say that author has given too much detailing in the traveling part which actually irks you after a time as it seems you are going through the Wikipedia page of each location. Secondly, there are grammatical and typo errors which I believe author should try avoiding as much as possible as reading on a Kindle device, it is found out immediately. Thirdly, when the story is being sold out as being based on Coronavirus pandemic, I believe there could have been more thriller occurrences which could have made the readers jump out of their couch while reading. Lastly, as the sweet moments of the book is majorly in the flashbacks which takes entry in the 2nd half of the book, it could have been great if author could have brought them in between since start of the book as it could have then made readers go through the traveling description interestingly too.

Overall, the book is a light-read and it is apt for new and early readers to begin their reading journey with or the people who love reading love and romantic stories. I give the book 3.25* out of 5.



Friday, July 10, 2020

Death: An Inside Story by Sadhguru (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!

21st Book of 2020!

Picking up books to read in lockdown phase is quite a choosy task as we wish to read something which is very exciting as we are already sitting at home otherwise we generally tend to read light stuffs such as spiritual, meditational and peaceful pieces as we are already handling enough mess in our routine. Even after knowing this, I picked up the book I had been wanting to read since its release “Death: An Inside Story” by Sadhguru knowing that it could have been depressing. The book also has the tagline that says “A book for all those who shall die”. I have watched many interviews of Sadhguru and whenever people asked him queries on death, rebirths, past lives etc., he would joke on it and move to the next question. I always thought that Sadhguru doesn’t believe in all this but this full-fledged book has come up like a surprise to me hence I was very excited for the same.

Talking about Death, you would think that someone would end up explaining it within 40-50 pages and what else can be more about this thing which happens so suddenly that we don’t even come to know about it. Also, we think that Death is the end so why to think much about it. The most we want is to be healthy while dying. But Sadhguru here takes us to explain something about this one-word phenomena named “Death” in around 375+ pages. That’s huge!

I never believed that Living and Dying are two different experiences spiritually and I thought if we live well, our dying has nothing to do with it and our next life, if there is a thing like that, shall be on the basis of how we lived our previous life. Through this book, I have realized that how we even die and what happens to us immediately before that and even for days after we die, impacts our soul and energies and can be critical for it to survive peacefully post our death even if we have lived spiritually well. Sadhguru handles all the subjects with his humorous and awakening tone which makes It easy for us to go through the book even when few chapters are little heavy or depressing to grasp and digest.

I was amazed with the concepts of multiple karmas, koshas, type of bodies, Vayus, chakras and how death happens in one of the stages in each of these concepts which impacts our energies later on. Sadhguru also doesn’t shy away from talking about concepts such as rebirth, re-incarnations, samadhi, mahasamadhi, ghosts, spirits, suicide, murder, memory after death etc. He also discloses about how his wife and several other close people around him left their bodies just like that on their will. He also talks about how body vanishes just like that for some people who are at the higher level to manage such phenomena.

Jaggi Vasudev also lets us know about multiple other things such as how to identify if the person had a good death or not. How energies can be handled even after death. What rituals need to be performed in order to assure that the person who has died gets dissolved successfully. The great information that is shared is about how the person doesn’t completely die when he breathes his last but stays alive for few hours/days after that and hence can’t be called completely dead till then. Reading all this was very fascinating and knowledgeable. He also ends up talking about his previous lives and if he shall be taking rebirth again or not.

Now talking about few drawbacks- I must say that this book is specifically meant for people who have already read or heard Sadhguru before otherwise understanding his language shall be very challenging. Secondly, most of the times Sadhguru doesn’t go into detailing just for the reason so that people get curious and go to Isha Yoga center or start taking his courses to understand things better. I believe if you are a spiritual person – first of all your book should be free of cost – if not that, at least don’t use it as a brochure for the multiple programmes handled by your foundation. Thirdly, few events that Sadhguru talks about like people leaving their bodies or burning and then vanishing immediately in front of him sounds fake because there’s no proof and we have not heard anyone sharing such events happening in front of them. I understand we are not that spiritually advanced to know if it’s bluff or true but still, things like these should be spoken with proofs or references. Also, I couldn’t agree with many things that he speaks about himself in terms of past life and how he has already lived more than required and he shall not be on the planet again.

Overall, the book is thought-provoking and something that you have not read before- it’s like experiencing death before death. I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5. The book has information that shall really change the way you see Death- for yourself, your family or your closed ones. It shall not be scary anymore. Yes!



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Khantastic by Sanjukta Nandy (Book Review: 3.75*/5) !!!

20th Book of 2020!

Reading books on Bollywood personalities becomes a different experience altogether as we come to know about the stories we are not aware of about the people we have adored on screen. And the motivation in our life comes only after reading the approach of the actors, directors and movie-makers behind the screen on how they worked and prepared for the same. There is no denying that for people who are born after 1980 feels a deep-connect with the Khan trio of Bollywood i.e. Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan. They are someone who came and changed things for Bollywood and movie-lovers who knew nothing except Amitabh Bachchan at that point of time. They shall always have special place in heart for people who love movies. Hence, reading about them is always very exciting.

This book named “Khantastic” written by Sanjukta Nandy claims to be speaking about the untold story of Bollywood’s Trio in the 210 pages. It took me very less time to finish this book for obvious reasons as it was talking about the Superstars I grew up adoring and copying in my school and childhood days. Author has taken due care to make us feel the same we felt when these guys were coming up with their multiple movies in their 1st and 2nd decade respectively which has made them the star they are today. Even today if these Khans fail, they are and shall always be remembered as Success Stories due to what they did in their career’s first twenty years.

Author starts with the background of each of the family and tells how they are connected through the similar kind of roots. Then she discusses their birth story and finally about their childhood days. Each story is unique in itself of all the stars. I personally liked reading about Shahrukh Khan here as his struggles are very less known as he is an outsider and never generally speaks about his early life. Then author discusses how they got into the industry and the challenges faced by them then and how it all changed after they delivered their first hit so superbly. The way how their love stories are discussed is the best segment of the book. SRK-Gauri’s story is in fact so filmy that you would not believe that it’s a true love story at all. Similarly, Aamir-Reena’s story is fascinating in itself. The best part is how author has humorously written about Salman’s ever-changing girlfriends and his dynamics with them post relationship.

The book then discusses about their several films and how they got few roles which were either first discussed with some other actor or with one among them but how then they profited from it by coming in at the last minute and taking up the rejected role. Their biggest success in the 90s are discussed vastly along with their recent successes in the days of 100-200-300 crore clubs. Author also talks about the relationship of three Khans among themselves and how they have survived all the bad days when they didn’t get along and even fought publicly. All the controversies of Salman Khan are briefed without trying to white-wash him – her stance is similar with mentioning controversial events of Shahrukh and Aamir too. I liked author’s daring to pour everything she knew as it is without modifying facts pushing it on sources etc.

I liked how a chapter is almost dedicated to Hrithik Roshan on whose entry in 2000, there were talks and discussions that Khans’ careers would now be immensely affected and the new generation is up there. How it even got connected with the then political conditions was something I wasn’t aware about which author mentions very clearly. Without putting anyone down- Hrithik or the Three Khans, author does a great justice to that chapter.

Talking about the drawbacks, I would say that it is not the author’s fault but because media covers these stars so passionately that almost everything is known to the general public hence there weren’t many stories with her to reveal in this book as a Shock or Surprise hence there’s nothing which can be called as untold stories. Secondly, I felt that many important events from their life has been ignored which could have been given nice presentation in the book. Then, a book which talks about journey of actors must have their filmography in the end for readers to understand their career-graph which is missing. The total count of movies that each star has done should also have been discussed in some manner and their approach towards how many movies they like working on.

Saying it all, this is a light and entertaining book which tells you about the most talked-about Khans in our country. I give this book 3.75 stars out of 5.



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