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Food for Thought

"The truth doesn't need to justify anything, it's the lie that
keeps on continually trying to cleanse itself."
~ Amritbir Kaur


The past stood witness to my present uncertainty while future was evasive. And it is this uncertainty of the present and the evasiveness of times to come that gives birth to poetry and poetic words. The standstill time stays put, the moment doesn’t pass, yet the day is gone. In gathering these moments the life is gone. What gives us a reason to wrap up these bits into one whole is our dreams, the reason to live. Dreams, even while staying silent, speak volumes. Give words to your dreams and they come alive!

Turning the pages of life I find some words half-baked, some half-erased, others half-written. I choose to tell those tales now.
I too have grumbled at bitter loss, have experienced the pain of being a lost winner, my eyes have had tear behind laughter and lips trying to hide pangs of pain. Yet I always believe one should hold on and keep trying to string the fallen beads. In the end, the story of what has been will connect to what will be, though the moorings of the past will never be snapped!


~ Amritbir

Book Review: ‘Harbart’ by Naburn Bhattacharya

Reviewed by Amritbir Kaur

Harbart Sarkar, the protagonist of the novel ‘Harbart’ by Nabarun Bhattacharya (translated to English by Arunava Sinha), is the sole proprietor of a business. He has had a tragic and eventful childhood. Harbart was the son of Lalit Kumar and Shobharani. His father lost all the money in gambling that he had made from the war economy. Harbart lost his parents when he was less than two years old; his father in an accident and his mother due to electrocution. Having faced such a tumultuous childhood, he goes on to live with his uncle, Girish Kumar. Life was not smooth for him even after that shift. He had to live on the charity of his relatives. Being a highly neglected child, nobody noticed that he had left his school and only indulged in a bit of self-study.
His life takes a sudden, complete turn when he discovers a skull along with a few bones lying in a trunk in his room. The discovery of such things gives a huge boost to his hunger for knowing about the mysterious death and after-life. And this was the beginning of his intriguing business. And his business is nothing short of the most extraordinary. He is into communicating messages of the dead to their near and dear ones on this Earth. Then in continuing with the chain of turn of events, one night after a bout of drinking Harbart is discovered dead in his room. With a view to gathering an insight into the after-world, he took to reading more and more on such topics.
While going through this novel, the rational reader might find this pill a bit too hard to digest. Despite a sense of skepticism being there that dominates a major part of the novel, there are times when the reader feels for Harbart. For instance, it is heartbreaking when Harbart is labeled as an impostor.
One incident that gives a new direction to Harbart’s life is Binu’s revelation at his death-bed. Binu tells Harbart of his private diary.
The narrative technique is a bit complicated for a casual reader as it frequently shifts focus from the known to the unknown. The book has a few flaws that creep into the fabric of literary translations. It is worth a one-time read, as there are parts, which make you read more of it.
Do share your take on the book once you read it!

Book Review: ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ by S. Hussain Zaidi

The theme of crime, investigation and intriguing mysteries have been very popular when it comes to the choice of themes to be read. We have had great classics apart from the contemporary authors (writing on such themes), who are a great hit with the readers. It is not without a grain of truth when Vishal Bhardwaj writes in the foreword of the book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’: “Crime is juicier than spirituality. Guns are more attractive than roses.”
The words like gang wars, mafia etc. are on everybody’s lips with nefarious activities becoming an every other day affair, especially in cities like Mumbai that is considered to be the den of such deeds. Do the names of Gangubai, Jenabai or Ashraf alias Sapna ring a bell? If not, that means you have not been through S.Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Gangland’.
‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ is a book of thirteen factual stories about mafia queens who are prostitution ringleaders, black marketers or trained assassins. The book boasts of a foreword by Vishal Bhardwaj and gives the feeling of a film-script. It is indeed a pulpy fiction that gives the reader a full chance to enjoy the twisted tales with surprise turn of events. ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ is the second book authored by S.Hussain Zaidi, a veteran journalist by profession. While work of fiction like Chetan Bhagat’s books are fit masala for Bollywood, these true stories too are promising ones for Bollywood pulp. They have all that it takes to be success story. The narration is so gripping that at places the reader tends to forget that the work is produce of careful investigation and reporting. All bits of information have been assembled together by the author, S.Hussain Zaidi, who also penned ‘Black Friday’ (also made into a film by Anurag Kashyap). Zaidi has a lot of experience of working with ‘Asian Age’ and ‘Deccan Chronicle’. The original research for these stories was done by Jane Borges.
There are a lot many brilliant turn of events from the plot, where the reader’s attention and concentration is focussed towards the book. There is the story of Ashraf. Her husband is shot dead in a fake encounter at the behest of Dawood. She determines to avenge her husband’s murder but with a sudden twist she is unable to do so. The basic twist lies in the title itself, just because the stories are about women and not the popularly known con men. It is a discovery that some women were so powerful inspite of the fact they were living in a world that was dominated by men.
Monica Bedi’s story might seem unconvincing to a few readers. It is already a well known fact that Monica Bedi was Abu Salem’s girlfriend. We have an amazing story of Neeta Naik. It was she who had made her husband join the underworld. Later on he was shot at and paralysed. That was not all, she also forced her husband to leave the country. Finally, he hired goons to get his wife killed.
Overall, the book was an interesting reading. Apart from that it also provided an insight into the role played by the powerful but lesser known women in this ‘gangland’ called Mumbai (that has been the capital of smuggling, gun-running, drugs, terrorism etc. for decades now). We have in ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ a remarkable piece of research and investigative journalism.