The Sanguinarian

The Sanguinarian

Thursday, 21 January 2016

PG Fresher's Party: A Fish Out of Water

I have always felt like an outcast in general. Whether it is among relatives or the social circles my parents move within, I have always known that I'm different. I don't care of what others think of me, I follow my heart, I'm stubbornly independent, progressive and liberal. I do my own thing, even if it makes me stand out, or people think I'm a freak.
That's what happened when I had to go to the belated Fresher's we were getting from our seniors in the Master of Pharmacy course, in my department of specialization.
These Freshers', for some reason, always have a theme, and a dress code.
This time, the theme was Retro. I supposed that we were expected to wear clothes fashionable in the 70s or something.

I decided to go. But, thing is, I am very simple when it comes to clothes. I don't like flashy or trendy outfits, or even accessories. My style is jeans plus a shirt or designer blouses, which I wear to college, to parties and everywhere else. I'm too lazy especially when it comes to having to buy clothes for a theme party.

So I decided, like always, to unfollow the rules. I put on mt favorite designer kurti, jeans, and Nike loafers and got my hair trimmed. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get dressed.

Au contraire, all five of my female batchmates took ages to get ready. While I waited for them to turn up and got bitten by mosquitoes on that hot, February evening in Manipal ( we don't have winter here). I ended up having to go along with one batchmate, who turned up wearing a shiny kurta with chudidar and a rose in her hair. The rest of the girls came separately.

Finally, when we reached the party venue at 7.30 p.m. ( instead of 6.15 as specified), I found out why they were so late. They were all dressed in 70s style dresses and had got their hair straightened etc.

And I was the odd man ( or woman) out. As usual.

On the one hand, I felt good to be the one to stand out. On the other hand, I wondered if I would stick out like a sore thumb and get laughed at- and become an even bigger pariah among my classmates than I already was ( because I always spend my free time reading or writing), I'd never felt this mixture of apprehension and consternation.

Once inside, I felt like a fish out of water, in the literal sense.

All the girl seniors were dressed in trendy clothes- one-piece and heels. All the boys were dressed in shirt and jeans, including my batchmates.

I was the only girl- and person- in jeans and a kurti. And the only one sans make up.

At first, we had simple, fun activities, so I gladly took part.

But my relief was short-lived. As it happens, I'm overweight and self-conscious about my body- I have body-image issues. As much as I value intellect and personality to be successful, I still feel uncomfortable about my physique.

So the first embarrassment came when we had to perform a catwalk, like models, to the title track from Fashion. I couldn't bear to think of how much like a joker I would look, so I walked the way I usually do- ramrod straight posture and chest out and big steps, like a man. Everybody cheered, but I'm not sure it was because I was doing a good job or I looked like a clown.

The second embarrassment came when the music came on. The party venue was a discotheque, so they had hired a DJ for the evening. Imagine my horror at the prospect of having to shake my ungainly physique in a room full of people.

Thankfully, they turned the lights off and brought on the psychedelic strobe lights. Some people kept asking me to join in the dancing, so I stood in the throng and clapped my hands in tandem to the music. Everybody else was throwing their limbs about in the most humungous manner possible, and yet, I was afraid of looking like an idiot.

There were few others who felt as socially inept as me- they resorted to alcohol to overcome their shyness, and let loose a little too much. I don't drink- am dead set against it, so I waited till the party was over and I could go back to the hostel.

But I learnt something that evening- it's okay to be myself at social dos. There are people who respect individuality and originality. I overcame my fears of being a social pariah and a freak.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Review- 1000 kilograms of Goa- Rohan Govenkar

Okay, before I begin with the review, I have a confession to make. I am simply fascinated by Goa. The churches, the temples, the Portuguese-cum-Konkani heritage, the names, the sartorial sense, the history, the heritage, the beaches, the tourists and of course, the food. I have been there only once, for a very brief period, but want to go there again and explore the state.
That's one of the reasons I agreed to read and review this book for Rohan- I had to see Goa through the eyes off someone who grew up there. And since his book was a thriller, it made the book all that more enticing.

That's one of the first merits, and one of the biggest ones, of this novel- it doesn't just tell you a story, it serves you Goa on a platter. It takes you on a merry roller-coaster through the cities, the casinos and the exotic dancers and the parties and the drugs. It captures the very essence of Goa very well.

The second big merit of this book is the plot. Thrillers are usually more plot-based than character-based, and this book has an intriguing plot with the right mixture of mystery, thrills and adventure.

Four friends from college reunite in Panaji, where the protagonist lives. The characters are also well-written- boorish Bhavesh, Ifti who struts about like a peacock, the sensuous, independent and feisty Priya and her sensible but often-irritating brother Pratik.

The protagonist's own problem, which crops up when he is supposed to be enjoying with his friends, gives the plot and Ashwin himself some depth, and also characterizes his attitude for most of the book.

The plot becomes interesting when, on their reunion, Pratik unveils a secret plan he hhas had, the real purpose of his trip to Goa. That plan takes the five friends on a wild goose chase and brings them in contact with rave parties, goons and drug lords and cranky old men who shoot anyone who they don't like.

There are some comic moments, bound to happen when multiple players are chasing after the same destination.

I also liked the twister of a love story between Ifti and his Uzbek girlfriend Maya. That was actual thriller material, as was the crux that drives the plot.
I liked the women characters- they're strong and have a mind of their own.

The writing is of good quality. The prose is eloquent and flows well. The editing is good, but could have been better.

My only nitpicks with the book are minor typo errors, tiny grammar mistakes and wrong use of words. Not that they hampered my reading experience, which was great. But since the book scores on all other fronts, better editing will make it even better and complete the package. I also would have  liked to know what happened to Ekaterina.

Rohan is one of the next big names in the thriller genre. I wish him all the best for his future work and await his next book.

If you are a thriller aficionado and have a thing for Goa, go buy your copy here: 1000 kilograms of Goa

Review- Varchasva: The Mythos of Jaladhi- Nishant Shailajan

"Varchasva – signifying absolute dominance – is the first in the Trilogy of The Mythos of Jaladhi. It is a tale of grit, determination and valour of five princes, handpicked and tutored by Maharishi Devang, their spiritually endowed mentor, in the inhospitable and treacherous terrain of Mount Anshuman. Their innate talents fostered by rigorous discipline and harsh training, their body and mind honed to perfection and exceptional prowess, the princes develop into an invincible Five Man Army of redoubtable warriors. Worthy wielders of divine weapons, their mission is to overcome the occult power of Himsa, abominable master of Seven Deadly Sins and the mighty rakshasa generals. Varchasva is the seedling that sprouts into the episodic saga of The Mythos of Jaladhi – a saga that draws its sustenance from the righteous yet vanquished heroes of lore – the illustrious antagonists from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; who now lend their phenomenal powers to the just cause of the princes, in a different age and world and in completely different avatars altogether! This indeed is heady old wine in sparklingly new bottle – the super-human drama of an epic struggle that culminates in triumph of good over evil, of love over hate, of hope over despair! A gripping fantasy with the evocative power to transport today's readers into a world of epic déjà vu!! " 

Mythological fantasy gets a new outlook, scope and from with Nishant Shailajan's first book. 

The novel starts of with a drastic and dramatic prologue which gives the reader a glimpse into what is coming in the next page. 
In the next few chapters, an interesting story unfolds as a brave king faces an enemy which seems not just invisible but also invincible. Tradegy follows as the dark forces of evil take over kingdoms. This happens as Maharishi Devang trains five young princes under him- five brave princes whose families and kingdoms are under seige by Himsaa and the seven sins, and who form each other's 
backbone in times of stress and grief.
The story loses pace for the first few chapter- even though the premise is intriguing. There is more telling and less showing. Excessive descriptions make the pace slow and drag the story along- scenes with less description would have been better. 

But then the story picks pace. Elements of political intrigue, horror and adventure come in as the action increases the feverish pace of the book. The brave warriors battle demons, rakshasas, the seven sins and other dark creatures from the darkest places imaginable. 

The writing is of high quality and the prose is flowing and eloquent. The editing is thorough and typos are less. Grammar is also perfect. 

The world-building is imaginative and original. The characters are rich and complex- good people do the most terrible things and bad people act with honor. The conflict is shown well- and the denoument matches the pace of the book. 

Nishant Shailajan is a promising writer to watch out for. I wish the author all the best for his future work and await his next book. 

If you like mythological fantasy with a dash of horror and politics and adventure, go buy this book here: 
The Mythos of Jaladhi

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Books I read in 2015

2015 was the year in which I discovered many new authors and genres. While my reading experience was mostly good- most books took me on a literary roller-coaster from which I came out refreshed and inspired, some books disappointed too. Here is a list of all the books I read in 2015 ( all I can remember, that is):

1. Such a Long Journey- Rohinton Mistry
2. Maya's New Husband- Neil De Silva
3. Brutal- Uday Satapathy
4. Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck
5. Half a Life- VS Naipaul
6. The Palace of Illusions- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
7. The Old Man and The Sea- Ernest Hemingway
8. The Narrow Road to the Deep North- Richard Flanagan
9. Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger
10. 1000 kilograms of Goa- Rohan Govenkar
11. Sula- Toni Morrison
12. The Radiance of Ashes- Cyrus Mistry
13. Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer- Cyrus Mistry
14. Passion Flower: 7 Stories of Derangement- Cyrus Mistry
15. Aarushi- Avirook Sen
16. Hannibal Rising- Thomas Harris
17. Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell
18. A Minute to Death- Ganga Bharani
19. Just You, Me and a Secret- Ganga Bharani
20. First Love Matters, so does the Second- Vishal Sah
21. The One That Got Away- Priyanka Menon
22. Sleeping on Jupiter- Anuradha Roy
23. Vanity Bagh- Anees Salim
24. The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown
25. Books of Blood- Clive Barker
26. The Krishna Key- Ashwin Sanghi
27. The Best of Manto- Compiled by Aatish Taseer
28. The Evil Eye and the Charm- Neil De Silva
29. The Mythos of Jaladhi- Nishant Shailajan
30. Faith of the Nine- Sachin Dev
31. The Scion of Ikshvaku- Amish
32. Women- Charles Bukowski
33. Shibumi- Trevanian
34. Satori- Don Winslow

As far as I can remember, these are the books I read in 2015. I hope I can read at least 50 in 2016.