March 10, 2012

Book Review---"Urban Shots: Bright Lights"

Book Title: Urban Shots: Bright Lights.

Editor: Paritosh Uttam

Price: Rs 199/-

Publication: Grey Oak in association with Westland Publication.

Being in quite a complex state of mind since the last few days, I was feeling this dead weight inertia that I desperately needed to snap out from.
Times like these, even the slightest effort makes one feel like he/she is performing a herculean task--even if it means just curling up in bed and reading a novel.
So my mind decided to plunge for the first collection of short stories that came my way.

Lucky for me, it was Paritosh Uttam's 'Urban Shots' that was up for reviews by Blogadda which saved me the trip to the bookstore.
'Urban Shots-Bright Lights' is a collection of twenty nine compelling stories by twenty one talented writers.
This anthology revolves around interesting characters and their lives set in urban India.The foreword by Naman Saraiya concludes with a handy and apt suggestion that requests the reader to give each of these stories breathing space before proceeding to the next one.

The book opens with a short story titled 'Amul' By Arvind Chandrasekhar.This is a beautifully narrated first person account of a terminally ill girl.The sensitivity with which the innocence of a class five student is captured and subtly combined with the harsh reality she is facing is wonderfully reflected in the writing.

'Alabama To Wyoming' By Paritosh Uttam is an amusing story by the editor himself.This was one of my favorites in the book.Written in a very interesting way, the end leaves you wondering whether to laugh at Sid's naivette (which in small measure, is a trait we all possess) or feel disappointed by the way he was conned into making a fool out of himself (which in all possibility, we could all be turned into).

'Across The Seas' By Ahemad Faiyaz is an emotional account of the unconditional love and longing of an aged mother for her son who stays overseas.The author's note at the end is a very sweet gesture which mentions that it is a tribute to his grandparents for their selfless perseverance.

'Good Morning Nikhil' By Ahmad Faiyaz---A sudden change of course makes this story a very interesting one.Another of my favorites, 'Good Morning Nikhil' speaks of a heart warming grandparents-grandson relationship which tugs at your heart strings and leaves you moist eyed.

'Father Of My Son' By Roshan Radhakrishnan is a rib tickling comedy by a good friend and wonderful writer.
Having known and read him even before he got published, I can vouch that this man with his crazy sense of humour and comic timing is someone who can get you cracking up in seconds...and his story 'Father Of My Son' stands testimony to that.

'Double Mixed' By Namita V. Nair---Half hearted introductions, awkward handshakes and averted glances---the not so perfect party with 'infidelity' being the theme and 'Murphy' playing host.

The urge to break free from the usual monotony of day to day life, from the stress at the workplace, from inner desires suppressed and inner anger restrained is something that haunts the protagonists of 'P.K Koshy's Daily Routine' By John Mathew and 'The Wall' By Sourabh Kotiyal.Although these two stories are somewhat based on similar lines, they end differently as one protagonist manages to break free and feel liberated after years of succumbing to it, the other decides to continue pushing against the 'wall' just for a little while more.

'Cats and sponges' by Meena Bhatnagar and 'Paisley Printed Memories' by Sneh Thakur surprise you with their unexpected endings while 'You Eternal Beauty by Naman Saraiya and 'The window seat' by Salil Chaturvedi mesmerise you with a whirlpool of emotions and words. While 'Maami Menace' makes you giggle at her idiosyncracies, there is 'The Raincoat' which manages to leave you misty eyed.

Each of these twenty nine stories are short and crisp.The language is simple and the narration, easy flowing.
Although the book is fast paced, every story has a unique plot with a different setting which adds to the charm of the collection.Crafted by different authors, there is a certain freshness in the style of writing in each of these stories which holds up the readers interest all through the book.

The only pitfall is that a few stories end sooner than expected while a couple linger a little more than necessary.However this is a excusable glitch when it comes to a compilation of stories wherein the limitations one are overcome by the merits of the other.

Clearly, this anthology is to be devoured not all at once.It is to be savoured like a favorite dessert, bit by bit...story by story.
To sum up, 'Urban Shots-Bright Lights' is definitely worth a grab.A proud collection to be enjoyed at leisure!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

March 05, 2012

The acid test

In the middle ages, there used to be a very popular technique to access the value of gold.
Since gold, unlike all other metals was particularly resistant to digestion with almost all acids, the application of acid to a substance suspected of being gold confirmed its genuineness.

On a deeper note, we all go through some such tests in life whereby our genuineness and trust is tested.
Sometimes, the test is to test our strength and endurance to a particular situation.

We promise to count on each other---life is built on a silent yet strong faith.

Count on one another we do.But as we seek the much needed comfort in each other's soothing words, little do we notice that our relationship is being tested only in fine weather.

...until one stormy day, sharp words carve their way into what we had considered a life long bond, snapping it into two and making us realize that perhaps it was just for a season that things were meant to last.

...that perhaps the connection we shared was never strong enough to survive the startling cold of an unexpected winter.

...and that perhaps we failed the one most important test of all relationships---the acid test!!!