The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

The Homing Pigeons is Sid Bahri’s debut novel. At the outset, I would like to thank Sid and Nimi Vashi (of http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/) for the book.

The Blurb:
In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever.

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it.

They say homing pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. The Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

The story:
This is the story of Aditya and Radhika, classmates in school and colleagues. He is hot-blooded and aggressive; she is passive and calm. He is indifferent and unattached; she is emotional and grounded. They love each other but cannot confess and when they confess, they cannot marry.

The background:
Gagandeep Singh, a Sikh, becomes Aditya Sharma in 1984, when his parents flee to Chandigarh after losing everything in Delhi and Faridabad, from where he completes his schooling and after graduation, joins Citibank, Delhi. He is an ambitious person who wants to succeed in life.
Radhika Kapila, the youngest of three siblings, adopted by foster parents at three, sent back to her biological parents in Chandigarh, after her class tenth exams. She has cold relations with her biological parents and a difficult time settling down in the school where Ms Kapoor, her teacher, Aditya and Shipra help her settle in. She also joins Citibank, Chandigarh and goes for the induction training to Delhi.
They meet and go back to their respective place of work. She gets married and he is left alone. She comes back and he cannot marry her, he marries indifferent Jasleen and she becomes the trophy wife of a rich businessman eighteen years older than her, in Lucknow.

Six years later, the year is 2008, the year recession hit India:
They are both thirty two. He loses his job and assets and has to be dependent on his indifferent wife, Jasleen. While trying to drown his sorrows at a bar, he meets Divya, who offers him a job, he accepts and moves to Delhi. She marries off her step daughter and moves to Delhi.

My take:
The author has narrated the book in first person, reflecting the story and reminiscences of the character whose name is mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. Both the stories run parallel to each other, in the present; get sometimes intertwined in the flashback and the characters come face to face again like the title suggests, THE HOMING PIGEONS.
The book is very well written. The chapters are short and it is very easy to reconnect with the characters. The moment I sat down to read it, I got hooked on and it was very difficult to put this book down. The characters have been very well sketched and their actions justify the picture painted. The language is simple and fluent. The cover is subtle and nice.
An excellent debut, though I wish the ending should have been sweeter.

Book Source: http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/
Publisher: Srishti Publishers

The one she was warned about by Shoma Narayanan

The one she was warned about by Shoma Narayanan

The fourth book by Shoma Narayanan, The one she was warned about, is the story of Shweta Mathur and Nikhil Nair, classmates right from Kindergarten till they were fourteen, who meet after fifteen years. Then, she had been the stereotypical hard working student and he, the stereotypical bad boy.

The Blurb:
There’s no such thing as a reformed rebel!

Shweta thought she would have the whole marriage-and-kids thing sorted by now. But she couldn’t be more wrong – her love-life’s a wasteland! So when she bumps into Nikhil, the bad boy from her past who still sets her pulse racing, she can’t resist flirting with danger…

Nikhil might have gone from zero to hero since they last met – although it’s hard to believe from all the gossip about him! – but soon Shweta’s hooked on the excitement he injects into her life…and on his spine-tingling kisses! Perhaps the rumours are true – Nikhil really is as dangerous as his reputation…

The review:
Shweta, now 29, works as an accountant, in an accounting firm in Mumbai, after doing her Chartered Accountancy course. An only child, she was brought up by her strict doctor father and an unmarried aunt after her mother’s death. A romantic at heart, she is deeply uncomfortable with romantic gestures. She shares her flat with Priya, her colleague and best friend. She has a fetish for matching her accessories and even matches her shoes to her jewellery and even pyjamas.

Nikhil owns Leela Events, the event management company which has organized the convention for Shweta’s firm. His company is big and organizes everything from Bollywood launches to corporate bashes. He is closer to his step-mother, Veena, more than his own mother.

They meet in Kerala, where her company has the convention, exchange phone numbers and then meet and date in Mumbai after coming back. He proposes to her, and after the usual ifs and buts, they live happily ever after.

The characters were likable and the story is fast paced. Nikhil, though the bad boy, is a very patient and caring person. Shweta is an independent girl who does not like to be possessed. The author has described the locations and Shweta’s clothes in great detail.

Books where the feelings of both the characters are described are my favourite. I loved this book very much.

Highly recommended, if you want to curl up on a cold, winter evening and feel good.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harlequin India

Living Next door to Alise by Anita Nair

Living Next door to Alise by Anita Nair

Anita Nair’s first story book for children, Living next door to Alice is the story of friendship of Siddharth and Alise.

Nine year old Siddharth lives with his intellectual parents (his father is a zoologist, researching the habitat of tigers and his mother is researching zoological plants) and loves to stay indoors reading, playing on the various gadgets or sitting on the computer. His parents want him to play outdoors like the children of his age. He is petrified of all creatures great and small.

One day, his parents send him to the garden to play and behave like a normal nine year old. Across the fence of his house he meets a baby girl elephant, Aishwarya, who likes to be called Alise. They become friends, meeting everyday in the garden. She can talk like humans and this is one secret the two friends share. Her Mahout, Unni, does not know that she can talk and they enjoy making a fool of him.

Alise knows that Siddharth does not like going to school, so after the vacations are over, she gets a tablecloth similar to his school uniform, ties her ‘hair’ with a pink bow and follows him to school and creates a lot of confusion there.

One day, she follows him to a party and devours the snacks and when they are trying to escape, both of them get lost in the forest. Here they come to know of The Bearded Bandit, the murderer of countless elephants and robber of their priceless tusks. After they are rescued from the jungle, they make a plan to catch the Bandit.

The story is very cute and the illustrations are cuter. The author has taken into account, the size of the elephant, while mentioning the quantity of food required like, bottles of cold drink, eight bubble gums, etc.

I loved the book very much and am pretty sure that both adults and children would like it. Anitha Balachandran deserves a special thanks for the excellent cover.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Puffin

My way is the Highway by Urvashi Gulia

My way is the Highway by Urvashi Gulia

My way is the Highway by Urvashi Gulia is a book about Mansha Sharan, who likes to be known as Manki.

At the beginning, Manki walks out of her office in Delhi and runs away with her jeep, Iqbal and reaches Chandigarh from where she wants to go to the hills. She goes to Mandi and beyond, alone. She meets her Prince Charming and the love story begins.

She has names for everything, her cell phone and also her car. Her relationship with her father is very cute.

There is too much use of alcohol and cigarettes in the book which makes it less relatable to people of our generation. Maybe, the new generation can relate to it better. The author has used two different fonts, one for the story and the other for Manki’s thoughts, which makes the book less confusing.

Initially, I failed to make contact with the book. It was not going anywhere. I felt, now what, and kept it down twice. Read two books in the interim. Then picked it up with a promise to myself, I have to finish it and I did.

Overall, better than many writers I have read, but I feel, she has the potential for much more.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin Metroreads

If God was a Banker by Ravi Subramanian

If God was a Banker by Ravi Subramanian

“If God was a Banker” by Ravi Subramanian is his first book which was published in 2007. It is about two young management graduates, Sundeep Srivastava and Swaminathan, from different family backgrounds, who join the New York International Bank as Management Trainees on the same day and choose two different paths to success.

The book begins with a stressed out Sundeep sitting awake the whole night, waiting for the next day to come so that he can know what his future will be in the bank. The story moves back and forth between the present and the flashback, as Sundeep recalls his time in the bank.

After winning the Director’s Gold Medal for Best All Round Performance in the Batch of 1986 at IIM, Bangalore, Sundeep says, “I play to win and not only for the spirit of the game.” He typifies the aspiring middle class in the country. He is money minded and does not mind stealing other’s ideas so as to climb the ladder of success. He leaves his morals behind, cheats on his wife, his customers and his bank.

Swami is a meritorious student from IIM, Ahmedabad and was acknowledged as the brain of the campus. He belongs to Chennai and had won a full waiver of the tuition fees. He belongs to a family of modest means. He is an introvert and an idealist. He wants to succeed but wants to do it with honesty and integrity. His family matters most to him.

Kalpana, is also from IIM, Bangalore, belongs to Mumbai and is the only child of a Rajasthani business family. She falls in love with Swami and they get married and she quits her job.

Aditya Rao is their first boss and has a reputation of being a tough boss. He later leaves the bank to open a BPO of his own.

Natasha, his secretary, is an attractive young woman. She falls for Sundeep, on the rebound, and he marries her. They have two children.

The author’s writing style is easy and simple. The book is fast paced and a page turner. The book delves into the deep secrets of the corporate world which is unknown to the common man. The book shows how people can stoop so low to succeed and at the same time, also that honesty always wins.

The characters have been introduced very well. Reading the book, I could guess the name of the bank.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher:  Rupa Publications

Staking his claim by Tessa Radley

Staking his claim by Tessa Radley

He is the Big Bossy Brother and she is the Icicle.
He is a Billionaire and she is a family lawyer.
But both of them love their younger siblings unconditionally.

Ella McLeod agrees to become a surrogate mother for her sister Keira and Dmitri’s baby. But just before the baby arrives, Keira and her husband Dimitri decide that they want to go to Africa and don’t want that chils and Ella can decide what she wants to do with the baby. Ella goes into early labour, delivers a beautiful baby girl and Dimitri’s brother, Yevgeny Volkovoy arrives at the hospital and starts bossing over.

She is unable to care for the baby and decided to give her up for adoption. She wants the baby to have a proper home, complete with loving parents and an elder loving sibling. She starts interviewing prospective parents with the help of a social worker, in order to find the right home for Holly. But Yevgeny says he will adopt the child. Ella finds him inappropriate because he is single and a workaholic, but he is ready to get married for the baby’s sake.

They take care of the baby until Ella finds an appropriate family for Ella and fall in love with the baby, though Ella was trying to keep her emotions out of it to make the separation easier. He even buys a home for the baby to grow up in and finalizes the deal with Ella’s consent.

Overall, a good book. I liked the maturity of both Ella and Yevgeny and found the younger ones irresponsible. And I loved the suspense.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harlequin India

In course of true love by Sanjeev Ranjan

In course of true love by Sanjeev Ranjan

In course of True Love….I am left with nothing is the debut work of Sanjeev Ranjan, a 21 year old engineering student. It is a typical Indian love story of love shy, introvert Aarush Ranjan and bold, smart, beautiful and open-minded Aachankya Kapoor.

How did I buy the book? Sanjeev followed me on Twitter and when I went onto his page, I realized that he is into writing his second book. I am currently reading and reviewing debut books of Indian authors and so, I went ahead and ordered his debut book. I finished it in one day flat.

He mentions in the acknowledgement that most of the incidents are based on his life. The book starts with Aarush going back home to Siwan from Bokaro after the AIEEE exams in April 2008. Also going back are his friends, Maanav, Saksham and Firoz, who don’t talk to him anymore though they were his best friends once. The entire story is in flashback (as they say it in the movies) on the way back to Siwan.

Aarush, lives with his parents in Siwan and scores 90.8% in Class X exams and his parents unhappy with the result. For better education, he goes to Bokaro with his friends. He gets admission in a college and a coaching class and stays in a PG accommodation with his friends. Aachankya is from Bokaro and goes to the same Maths tuition as Aarush and is bold enough to ask him his name on the first day and tell him to meet her after the class. The entire book is filled with the telephonic conversations between them or a few letters.

It is a very simple and decent love story with simple unsophisticated English, which can be read and understood by everyone. The story in first person along with the timeline, makes it more relatable. The relationship between the two has been beautifully portrayed. The cover is very simple and nice.

What needs to be looked into by the editorial team is the spellings and grammar. Eagerly, awaiting his next book, “It’s no longer a Dream”, with the hope that the flaws in this book would not be repeated.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Srishti Publishers

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat, is the story about the college days of three boys, Hari Kumar, Ryan Oberoi and Alok Gupta who join the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, from 1991 to 1995. Though from different backgrounds, all the three have joined the Mechanical Engineering Branch and are hostel roommates.

Ryan Oberoi, Rank 91, is handsome, rich and brilliant. He is a born rebel and wants to be an innovator and feels that IIT system of education is wrong. He hates his parents.
Alok Gupta, Rank 453, has a crippled father and an unmarried sister. He joins IIT because wants to get a good job and support his family. He becomes selfish sometimes.
Hari Kumar, Rank 326, is fat and not very intelligent. He wants all of them to stay together, is an escapist and also the narrator of the story.

The book describes the friendship, arguments, ragging, studies, ambitions and the enjoyment of the college life of the trio. They do not like the Grade Point Average or GPA system used at IIT to rank the students. The minimum score is around 5 and they score somewhere around the five mark and that is what led to the title of the book, Five Point Someone.

The convocation speech by Dr Cherian conveys the message of this book.

The story is simple and the characters are life like. The story being narrated in first person makes it very interesting.

I read this book around five years ago, then watched the movie and reread the book yesterday, and found the book much better than the movie. But as I was reading Dr Cherian’s speech, I could hear Boman Irani’s voice in the background.

Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat, is the story about the college days of three boys, Hari Kumar, Ryan Oberoi and Alok Gupta who join the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, from 1991 to 1995. Though from different backgrounds, all the three have joined the Mechanical Engineering Branch and are hostel roommates.

Ryan Oberoi, Rank 91, is handsome, rich and brilliant. He is a born rebel and wants to be an innovator and feels that IIT system of education is wrong. He hates his parents.
Alok Gupta, Rank 453, has a crippled father and an unmarried sister. He joins IIT because wants to get a good job and support his family. He becomes selfish sometimes.
Hari Kumar, Rank 326, is fat and not very intelligent. He wants all of them to stay together, is an escapist and also the narrator of the story.

The book describes the friendship, arguments, ragging, studies, ambitions and the enjoyment of the college life of the trio. They do not like the Grade Point Average or GPA system used at IIT to rank the students. The minimum score is around 5 and they score somewhere around the five mark and that is what led to the title of the book, Five Point Someone.

The convocation speech by Dr Cherian conveys the message of this book.

The story is simple and the characters are life like. The story being narrated in first person makes it very interesting.

I read this book around five years ago, then watched the movie and reread the book yesterday, and found the book much better than the movie. But as I was reading Dr Cherian’s speech, I could hear Boman Irani’s voice in the background.

Book source: Bought
Publisher: Rupa Publications

Hitched: The modern woman and arranged marriage by Nandini Krishnan

Hitched: The modern woman and arranged marriage by Nandini Krishnan

Hitched by Nandini Krishnan is a book about modern women and arranged marriage. I ordered this book because of the beautifully designed cover, an excellent job done by Ajanta Guhathakurta. It is a collection of stories about real life women (and some men) and arranged marriage.

The blurb:
If you are an Indian woman and old enough to legally bear children, chances are that an overweight relative has asked you, while fondly stroking their pot belly, ‘When am I going to eat at your wedding?’

The modern Indian woman’s attitude to marriage- and especially to arranged marriage-is a confused one. As traditional matchmaking methods and internet chat rooms come together to build matrimonial websites, our parameters have changed, but the time-honoured practice of arranged marriage abides.

Hitched explores in depth the considerations matrimony should involve, and the issues that can crop up at different stages of an arranged marriage. A cross-section of women- those who married young, married late, married the first man their parents parked before them or married out of caste in an arranged setup- open up about experiences ranging from the frightening to the hilarious and the aww-inspiring.

My view:
The title of the book, I felt, suggested that it would be a book filled with stories like “How I met my husband”, the ones that appeared in Women’s Era, way back in the 80s and 90s, I don’t know whether the column is still published. So when I saw the book, I said, let me read it.

The author mentions that when she was approached to write this book, she thought mostly of her own brushes with arranged marriage. She found it surprising that people wanted to talk about their marriages. A lot of people shared their stories and advice with her. The book has sixteen stories shared by different women. This is followed by discussions on different topics related to marriage, taking into consideration the point of view of both men and women.

Some women mentioned that they knew that they would have an arranged marriage, some made checklists and some trusted their instinct. Some married because their horoscopes matched while some married even if they didn’t. Some married and shifted to a different country and waited for their work permit to come through. Some mentioned staying in different cities and meeting every two weeks for the sake of the children and their career. Some got married in haste and some broke of their engagements when they realized that they were not suited for each other. Some found friendly and cooperative in-laws and some were dominated by them. Some had caring and supportive husbands while in some cases the husbands were dominating.

Some felt marrying early is good and some married late. Some continued working while some gave up. Some spoke about compromises, some about different approaches to having it out and some mentioned about not going to bed angry. Some said it is very important to compartmentalize life and some say that a marriage is what one makes of it. Some have even mentioned how they would know if someone was the right one. Some mentioned that open communication was the best approach. Some felt that marriage is a gamble while some felt that one’s relationships are reflections of oneself.
Some made adjustments while some compromised.

A lot of research has gone into writing the book. Imaging talking to sixteen women and their husbands about their marriage and then editing and including all that was relevant.
I have had an arranged marriage and there were certain instances in these stories which I could identify with. I feel, any marriage, whether arranged or love, is the same once you are married, only the way you met your husband was different.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Random House India

How I braved Anu Aunty and cofounded a Million dollar company by Varun Agarwal

How I braved Anu Aunty and cofounded a Million dollar company by Varun Agarwal

How I braved Anu Aunty and co-founded a million dollar company is a true story of entrepreneurship by Varun Agarwal.

Varun knows Anu Aunty since he was in sixth grade and he aptly describes her as one of those women who always poked her nose into everyone else’s problem and sniffed for one when there was none. His mother had met Anu Aunty at a random kitty party and their friendship lasts till date. Varun was an average student at Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bangalore and Anu Aunty would not miss the opportunity to talk about the achievements of her son, Arjun, and she still does. Having studied for an engineering degree at the advice of Anu Aunty’s husband Biju Uncle, Varun is jobless and his joblessness is the talk of the town. His mother is worried about it and Anu Aunty even tells his mother to take him to a counselor, which does.

One day, he talks to his friend, Rohn Malhotra, about starting up a business of selling customized school and college merchandise. They create an e-commerce company called ‘Alma Mater’, an online store and take orders and start their business. His mother and Anu Aunty find out and create an emotional scene. After he explains his passion to his mother, she comes around, encourages him and also helps him.

The book is written in first person and the author has described all that he went through while starting a new company/ business/ and internet company and has also given tips to new entrepreneurs. I loved the part when they go to Shiva’s to discuss plans and the staff, starts taking down notes.

The book is interesting, funny at times and easy to read. The typical Bangalore pronunciation, facebook and youngsters hanging out in pubs make it all the more entertaining.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Rupa Publications