Gods and Gambles

Review of Aqson Level I Author – Sreejib Published in 2017 If I believed in the principle of full disclosure, I would have told you that I reviewed this book for the author who is a friend but since I am not a man of principles you will have to figure that out by yourself. To be honest, I was afraid I will lose her friendship as I am not into fantasy novels (Harry Potter, Game of thrones excepted) and would have to rate this book low. Luckily, it became the third exception. The summary may it look like an uneven circus with mentions of God, Satan (thanks!), angels, politics, students etc but here it is a very entertaining circus. Unlike some of other YA books that screw mythology and call it serious ‘retelling’; this one makes no such claims and is just focused at entertaining. The book discusses socio-political issues of its time and place (India towards the end of 2018, yep not-so-distant future). I agree with it on those issues. One problem with generic fiction is that all characters are supposed to be brilliantly hot, but at least in this case, the author is conscious of the problem


I have been wondering about how come people of this hell-hole keep getting attracted towards. One reason, I guess, is because I too am in this hell hole – perhaps more deeply sunk then so many else. But they do not generally like each other as much. Why should I be an exception? Perhaps because I am the only one talks about solutions -about getting out of this hole. People sunk here do each one of them think that he or she can’t get out of it. But perhaps I give them hope – of being understood. That is all the hope I find in their eyes. Not the hope of being helped out of the hole though – most of them never ask for it. As if the very idea of doing so will shame them. I don’t know what sort of civilisation does that to people – even the most primitive animal screams for help whether or not it has hope of getting any and, among humans too, children are quick to scream when in need of help – that is, before the shadow of civilisation has conditioned them to believe that asking for help is a shameful

Racism and GWTW

It looks silly to judge a book because it has racist characters. It is like judging Jane Austen books to be materialist because it is about rich people. You can’t call a book racist because it has racist characters – the more exact measure is whether the book has a world that justifies racism. Scarlet justifies slavery by arguing that black people are too naive to manage to do anything unless they are ordered. Yet, you see this argument refuted when some of the minor black characters achieve success. Farm slaves abandon their masters and join Yankees showing they didn’t agree with the southern values as most white southerners believed. It is in this way that novel acts as an argument against slavery. If you need another proof, then there is black nanny characters – an important minor character who is never named in the book. The only black characters who show submissiveness are house servants – for one reason going with Yankees would have been much riskier than their present life and secondly, they weren’t the lowest in the racist hierarchy and so had something in the system to take pride in. One argument against is that it doesn’t

On Wildlings

(Review of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’ by Truman Capote First Published in 1958 Review by Sidharth Vardhan December 20, 2016) “Anyway, home is where you feel at home. I’m still looking.” Ok, I no longer believe in ‘never Judge a book by its cover’. I read this one mainly because of it’s cover. Have you ever feared being trapped by love and similar demons? It is basically about that fear. “You’ve got to be sensitive to appreciate her: a streak of the poet. But I’ll tell you the truth. You can beat your brains out for her, and she’ll hand you horseshit on a platter.” There are some people who, in their easy going and wanting-to-include-everyone-in-their-joy ways become highly likeable to sensitive souls, the sensitive folks find themselves emotionally invested in them only getting indifference in return. The indifference is not always because of malice. Sometimes, these people, just as Holly was, are as sensitive as others but have decided that they won’t let themselves caged down even by other’ love. “Never love a wild thing, Mr. Bell,” It is a kind of life that most people are often tempted to lead. We look at the birds flying in the sky

God’s Bread

“Only an animal worries all the time about the next meal.” – Naguib Mahfouz   1. How could he judge her? Who was he to judge her? Hadn’t she been patient enough? Mariah still remembered how she had lost her son, her only child, and it seemed to have only increased her faith – perhaps exactly because her son was taken away. Once when she was a young girl, she thought how strange faith was – the very reasons – the loss of a dear one, floods ruining everything one owns etc that should cause one to lose one’s faith often end up increasing it. Her own life had a similar trajectory – she first gave a serious thought to religion after the death of her mother who was killed by her master’s whip and by the time her father died a few days later of starvation, she was seriously religious. He had managed to marry her to John in his last days thus ensuring that she won’t be left alone.

About Flowers, Tea, Tao and others

In the trembling grey of a spring dawn, when the birds were whispering in mysterious cadence among the trees, have you not felt that they were talking to their mates about the flowers?” Wow! “True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally complete the incomplete.” Just wow! “Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which says: “To those who long only for flowers, fain would I show the full-blown spring which abides in the toiling buds of snow-covered hills.” More wow! “The tea-master, Kobori-Enshiu, himself a daimyo, has left to us these memorable words: “Approach a great painting as thou wouldst approach a great prince.” In order to understand a masterpiece, you must lay yourself low before it and await with bated breath its least utterance.” Wow, ad infinitum! Proper review (more or less): “Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.” Beautiful writing all around. In terms of prose, it has to be the best Japanese book I have read. Okakura’s

Snow and scarves

Snow by Orhan Pamuk Published in 2002 A review by Sidharth Vardhan [usr 5] “To play the rebel heroine in Turkey, you don’t pull off your scarf, you put it on” If you were interested in the whole controversy raised by the ban of veil in France a few years ago, then this book too might interest you. It is based on real events in a modern and secular Turkey. Here too there is a ban on wearing head-scarves in universities and like, though this is in a country where the majority of the population is Muslim but

Jacques The Fatalist- a review

[usr 4] (Jacques The Fatalist – a review Author – Denis Diderot First published in 1796 in France) I’m sitting in my place when the doorbell rings. I open the door to find a girl with chocolaty curly hair whom I have never seen before, she takes hold of my hand with both her hands imploring me to help her. Suddenly I’m a superhero and she is a damsel in distress, and so I ask her what is wrong? And she sighing and almost sobbing tells me…

Unbelievable Shrews

The feminist issues can be answered with the simplest argument that there is no knowing Shakespeare’s intentions. The best of his characters are always doing most villainous things – Shylock Othello, Caliban, Brutus, Iago etc. The fact that they come to a bad end might only show Shakespeare’s realism. But amid all prejudice that other characters show to them, the dislikable things they do and bad end they meet; they are still the ones that one feels most attracted towards. Kate is no different in that when she says “I see a woman may be made a fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.” she forecasts her tragedy. I don’t think anyone will claim to like Petruchio – and yet he is the most liked character in the play. I think one can thus argue that Shakespeare was questioning the very prejudice that he is accused of having. My problem is different – Kate seemly badly characterized. One doesn’t expect complex characters in a comedy but this one just didn’t make sense to me. She is unnecessarily arrogant in the beginning – she might be saying something powerfully feminist when she says, “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,

Falling Apart

I was standing at a bus stop, not waiting for my bus though – had just spent many boring hours in my room and wanted to be out to answer seductive appeals of the lovely weather outside with its cold winds blowing and clouds overhead, the kind of weather that created music in air and set peacocks dancing. Not everyone danced though; people were already looking for shelter when the rain had started.

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