Wednesday, August 31, 2016

RUPA PUBLICATIONS: Man Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

Read a page from this book. Close your eyes for 2 minutes. Read another. Close your eyes again. Repeat this, until the chapter you've been reading is over. No wildlife based television show would ever be able to provide you with a better and more enchanting view of the life of hills and around of long ago, under the menace of dangerous man-eaters, like this one.

'Enchanting' be the one word, if I am to describe my thoughts upon reading this book.

This book is a compilation of ten tales of Corbett's various escapades, mostly spine-chilling, with tigers and leopards, who had gained notoriety due to being man-eaters. Having dealt with wildlife over a long period of time and having observed them from close quarters, Corbett has been able to outline the possible thought process or the reason for the beasts’ behaviours almost as deftly as he has been able to describe the human reactions and responses to the former’s threats.

As a reader, my personal favourite certainly is the story “Robin”, which in some sure sense resembles a typical work of Mahadevi Verma, delicately and lovingly outlining the life of a favourite pet. The protagonist of the story is Robin, Corbett’s faithful spaniel, who had accompanied and helped the author in many of his hunting adventures. In his own words, the canine was “the biggest hearted and the most faithful friend man ever had”. From how the pet came into the care of the author, to how he started training, to how his skill oftentimes became their savior, to how eventually, he bid adieu to his loving master, it is a beautiful story that leaves the reader yearning for more.

As Ruskin Bond aptly puts in the introduction, “Corbett’s exploits brought him fame as a hunter. His book turned him into a legend.”

If you consider yourself an adventure lover or are simply looking for some thrilling stories, here’s the deal. Just read this book. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

RUPA PUBLICATIONS: My Favourite Nature Stories by Ruskin Bond

Title: My Favourite Nature Stories
Author: Ruskin Bond
Price: INR 195
Genre: Non-Fiction
ISBN: 978-81-291-3768-5

The sure worst part of the book was that it eventually got over. Each word devoured and each page gulped. I am still in denial and start re-reading every now and then, and yes, coming back to it is one of the best feelings ever.

Brought out by Rupa Publications on the occasion of the author’s 82nd birthday, this wonder of a book is a beauteous collection of 21 nature and daily life inspired pieces of prose by Ruskin Bond. To explicate why I refer to it as wonder of book, may I point that it had I, a self-proclaimed, hard hearted detractor of non-fiction genres, loving each of its stories and longing for more… and yet more.

Each of the stories is short, more like a compilation of penned down thoughts at different points in time during the author’s long association with the mountains and of brief periods away from them. The stories are straight from the heart pieces and the narrative is so real that as one reads them, one can totally imagine oneself as actually being in the place and situation described.  

From trees to insects to a walnut thief grandmother to the ancient wells of old Delhi to birds that sang and flowers that bloomed and snakes that didn’t kill to what humans are doing to the mountains to the tube train journey that could remind the author of mountain bears making away with ripe pumpkins, the book takes the reader though a variety of topics and places. And suddenly, somewhere in between the text, when you least expect, a funny line or two crops up. For instance, in the context of sweltering heat of the dusty lanes of Old Delhi, the reader gets to sample this:
“Shopkeepers nod drowsily beneath whirring ceiling fans. The pavement barber has taken his customer into the shelter of an awning. A fortune teller has decided there is nothing to predict and has fallen asleep under the same awning.”

There are some important lessons for us humans as well, case in point:
“While the green-backs took their plunge, the red-heads waited patiently on the moss covered rocks. I thought they showed more discipline than a crowd of people at a city water-tap.”

And some food for thought, like:
“For every time I see the sky, I am aware of belonging to the universe rather than to just one corner of the earth.”

The book also talks of how simple things like sweeping the verandah or meeting the river or the sound of some insects could be of importance and a source of happiness.

All in all, a very satisfying experience reading the book. A must read for all who’ve been to the mountains and cherish the calm inspired mountain life.

Although, I would request the publishers to get the book proofread as there are a few errors here and there, I would like to thank them for their praiseworthy endeavour in bringing out this book.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rupa Publications Reviewed

Title : Ganesh
Author : Subhadra Sen Gupta
Illustrated by : Tapas Guha

Publisher : Red Turtle (Rupa)
ISBN : 978-81-291-4029-6

Thanks for beautifully illustrated children's books and movies on Ganesh, the Lord has become the most endearing and much loved friendly God for children. The stories behind his unique physical characteristics like pot-belly, elephant's head and a broken tusk - keep the children engaged to no end. While we all know the most popular stories associated with Ganesh, they are being retold by Subhadra Sen Gupta with a slight twist.

Though acclaimed as the most learned and witty divine being, yet the antics of Ganesh bridge the gap that a devotee feels with the divine. He is the adorable and friendly God for all, and the one who can be made happy by pure innocent love.

The book Ganesh has four stories - How Ganesh Lost his Head, Ganesh Loses a Trunk, Ganesh versus Kartik and Ganesh Curses the Moon. Each of the stories are beautifully accentuated by colourful illustrations by Tapas Guha.  A perfect gift to children of age group 5 to 8 years.

Available on flipkart

Title : The Story of Hanuman
Author : Mala Dayal
Illustrated by : Taposhi Choshal
Publisher : Red Turtle (Rupa)
ISBN : 978-81-291-3717-3

And who is the other God that incites the same feelings as Ganesh, none other than the monkey God Hanuman. Known for his unflinching devoutness towards his deity Sri Ram, the stories associated with Hanuman are equally amusing and awe-inspiring. When he was a child, he thought the shining Sun is some big juicy fruit in the sky and so leapt into the sky to pluck it. This led to a lot of chaos and many Gods had to intervene which made Hanuman's father the Vayu God very angry. The other Gods had to appease the Vayu God by bestowing special blessings and powers to Hanuman. When the time came to seek knowledge, Hanuman approached Surya to be his guru and in return Surya asked Hanuman to look after his son, the monkey prince Sugreev. Hanuman facilitated the bond of friendship between Sri Ram and Sugreev. He was entrusted with the task of searching for Sita in the south direction where Lanka is situated. He crossed the great ocean, met mother Sita, set Lanka on fire, brought the news of Sita to Ram. Soon after, the great battle began between Sri Ram and Ravan. Hanuman remained by the side of his Lord all through.

His devotion to Lord Ram is unparalleled. The whole story from the childhood of Hanuman to Ram-rajya has been retold by Mala Dayal in 'The Story of Hanuman'. While everyone is well versed with these mythological stories from the epic Ramayana, it is always interesting to read the same through the words of different authors. The added bonus that this book offers is extra trivia about names of different trees, and some activities like puzzles, mazes and games.

Available on flipkart

Friday, May 13, 2016

THE PROMISE by R.L. Scott- Buccleuch

 Author- R.L. Scott- Buccleuch
 Publication- Heinemann
 Illustrations- David Barnett
 Rating – 5/5
 Review by – VIDHI SETHI (14 yrs.)

The Promise, by R.L. Scott – Buccleuch is a truly inspirational story of a boy named Palito. The story is set in Bahia, a state in Brazil. It revolves around a boy who is very passionate about football. Beautifully written, the story is very binding and interesting.

Born to Pedro and Maria, a poverty-stricken couple, Palito grew up with his parents and his two sisters- Fernanda and Odete in a small hut. Life had been cruel to him. He had been born with de-shaped legs. But his strong will power and determination drove him to achieve his goal. From a very early age he had had a keen interest in football. His father despite the poor condition of the family wanted him to follow his heart. Pedro’s only wish was that his son becomes a great footballer one day and plays for Brazil. But life wasn't a bed of roses for them. They had to face many highs and lows. There were times when it seemed as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Still Palito, with his focused approach and single-minded devotion, was able to fulfil his father’s desire. He became one the greatest players in the history of Brazilian football. At the time of Palito’s birth an old Negress had told his father that his boy would grow up and become famous. She had told him that he would give happiness to many people and would help the poor. Her prophecy had come true. Palito’s name was known in many countries all over the world. Many thousands of people enjoyed watching Palito on the football field and the children’s hospital in Bahia, set up by Palito, gave help to hundreds of poor and sick children.

The story has a beautiful narrative and is a must read for everyone. It inspires the reader. It also creates a kind of passion for the sport and should be read by each and every football lover. Palito comes across as a very nice, determined, courageous and patient individual. He was able to go through so many hardships and obstacles in his journey. From the local village team to the Corinthians, then to The White Star and finally to the Brazilian football team, Palito’s journey wasn’t an easy one. The extremely supportive role that the family plays in his life is also quite noticeable. There is a lot that we can learn from every character.  It is one the best books I have ever read. 

Read the book to find out why the title 'Promise'.


Thursday, April 7, 2016


Title: Our Impossible Love
Author: Durjoy Datta
Number of pages: 289

“13 year old girl gang raped in south Delhi”, “6 year old daughter raped by servant in the house” and many such headlines are not a new thing to people in Delhi. Such horrendous crimes have become common and majority of the people do nothing except cribbing about the situation and the authorities just get away with the situation by offering handsome money to victims (if alive) and their families(if dead). 

Going by the name of the novel many readers would have expected the review to start with the girl and boy and how they met but this novel is not only about the love story of two characters but it is more than that. The story is about friendship, kinship, jealousy, and many other perils that are prevalent in the society. The story revolves around two major characters Danish, student of psychology, belongs to high class society of Delhi and his parents are well educated and his brother, Ankit, is always in the news because of his amazing IT ventures and Aisha, 17 year old student who loves her family from the bottom of her heart and belongs to middle class society whose father is getting transferred from here and there and her mother is fighting against dialysis with all her might. Danish is the student counselor in Aisha’s school and she usually consults him about every personal matter and in all this process she is trying to become a better woman. Another major role is played by Aisha’s new boyfriend, Vibhor who is another hot-shot boy living on the luxuries of his parents. 

Things changed on the 18th birthday of Aisha when Sarthak, her brother, throws a big party and she got drunk so much that she blackouts in Vibhor’s home and without her consent he had sex with her. Aisha terms this as rape whereas all her friends just think she is overreacting. After facing weeks of discomfort and shame in her own self she tells this to Danish who supports her, discloses it to her family and helps her in filing a case in the court against Vibhor. Lack of evidence and strong ministry support to Vibhor helped him and Aisha was proven wrong in the court. The bond between Danish and Aisha fostered when he helps her to fight back against people who don’t believe her and have started teasing her, calling her slut and made her life hell in the school.  Aisha came to know about Danish’s love for her through a document in his laptop that clearly spoke his heart out and after few days she confronted her feelings as well. Sarthak who turns out to be a gay and also has a boyfriend, Eriskin, in Poland and comes for her rescue and her mother is so open minded that she accepts the way her son is and only thinks about his happiness. Such stories are rarely visible in real life even in metro cities of India. Their mother’s behavior will actually come as a surprise to many readers. 

Before leaving for Poland, Sarthak and Eriskin became the partners in crime with Aisha and played a prank on Vibhor and tried to prove him a gay with the help of social media and that’s when he realized that what he did with Aisha was actually a rape and not something what he called little rape and she wasn’t overreacting. The story ends here when Aisha and Danish decides to live happily together ever after. Misconceptions of people regarding what rape is and what it is not is so wrong that the society and even the authorities that are supposed to do justice failed to understand what the girl has actually gone through during all those moments. In the nutshell, Durjoy Datta tries to bring out various aspects of different relations, a simple and cute love story, impact of western world, hype of social media and how the most educated people fail to understand the very simplest of the things. The novel is a good read if somebody is just interested in a small real world story that will have some fictional angles.

Do consider it if you are travelling as it is a light read!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous by Gita V. Reddy

Title : Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous
Author : Gita V. Reddy
Illustrations by : VC Arts

'Bala Gala the Brave and Dangerous' is a cute little story which celebrates imagination of tender minds as the main theme. Every child is a gifted dreamer, and the flights of imagination take him to far and wider places which may not even exist in the practical world.

There once was a Gamba-Bamba forest in which a river Kanga flowed. Bala Gala was a tiger in that forest who roared ferociously. Earlier he was a deer, who was quick and fast. There were many other co-inhabitants of the forests too. Brammy-Gommy, the crocodile who always wanted to eat Bala-Gala whenever he came to the river to drink water. Once when a monster came to the jungle, Bala Gala turned into a fire dragon to scare the monster away. In every flight of his imagination, he made many friends, scared some away, saved some but enjoyed every tryst thoroughly.

Yes, these are all imaginations of a little child who wakes up every day with a fresh adventure in mind. Just by imagining himself to be a different creature every morning, he weaves a unique world around it.

Role play is a great way by which little children learn and entertain themselves. The author has done perfectly well in reaching out to the children through their dreamland where they usually love to reside. In fact, the ability to be able to imagine oneself to be anything is quite empowering. One can choose to be anybody or anything and that is what Gita has allowed Bala Gala to be. He chooses to be a deer first but when Brammay-Gommay frightens him,  he decides to be a tiger instead. And on a beautiful bright morning he looks forward to being a pretty butterfly. There is no end to the options and hence the excitement is endless too.

Illustrations beautifully accentuate the impact of the story.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Author- Roald Dahl
Illustration- Quentin Blake

Rating- 4.5/5
Review by- VIDHI SETHI (13 yrs)

The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, a delightful kidlit book is a sure pleasure to read. The story mainly revolves around the narrator and the Greggs. It starts by telling us about the unfortunate series of events that happen with Ms. Winter thanks to our dear narrator’s Magic Finger.

Our little 8yr old narrator hates hunting. Whenever she sees Mr. Gregg and his two sons, Philip and William hunting she gets really angry. Once she sees the trio bringing back a beautiful, golden deer that they had shot. As usual, she starts seeing red, gets hot all over and her finger begins tingling most terribly and unknowingly her Magic Finger touches the Greggs and the adventure begins. The whole family turns into ducks and spends the night in a nest on a tree eating slumburgers and wormburgers. The story continues with the Greggs finally understanding the fact that even birds love freedom and shouldn’t be hunted. The little narrator’s Magic Finger is very helpful in transforming the Greggs.

The book has a beautiful storyline and is worth a read. Complete with attractive pictures the story seems even better. It’s a wonderful example of Roald Dahl’s way of capturing the reader’s attention and making it extremely tough for him/her to keep the book down. It’s a really sweet and interesting book with a nice ending and a good moral. Once you read it, you'll sure bless me for suggesting this book to you. ;)