An edgy modern-day fable that takes you on a mystical journey with life.
You are from India the land of three hundred and thirty million Gods and you say you dont believe in even one of them? I think its time to go home, Sid. Andreas words have been echoing in my head since last night when she poured another round of scotch. I entered God in the Google search bar and of all the places, it directed me to India a place where I had buried my childhood dream eleven years ago and moved to New York. I waived God away when I got to New York and to be honest, I didnt need Him either. Until now.
Lifes always been a bitch but this time its gone too far. I want my money and my company back and I will find God one way or the other to get my answers. Ive boarded the flight. Hop on and yes, carry some scotch along.
See you on the other side.
Sid: Siddharth Khanna
There aren’t many Indian books in this genre yet, hence the comparisons have adhered to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. In case you haven’t noticed, this book is a ‘Philosophical/Spiritual’ Fiction. The genre should have been popular considering the vast spiritual resources in India, but it hasn’t. Perhaps because it is quite difficult to write about life in a simple manner. Shraddha Soni has performed the task pretty well in her debut book, I am Life.
Titled simply with a beautiful cover (which explains itself later), the book is set at a slim less-than-200 pages. It might seem an easy read from the blurb and volume, but it isn’t. Shraddha raises questions, provides problems and long-drawn solutions at the climax with an earnest seriousness. The book begins with Siddharth Khanna, a successful businessman from New York suddenly discovering his world upside down with an impending divorce and loss of everything he assumed to own. The beginning is in a casual way that draws the readers’ attention without sounding too heavy.
The story in Life…Love…Kumbh… is told from the perspective of the three main characters- Annant, Agastaya, and Aditi. Their paths cross on January 13, 2010. It is the day before the first of the eleven sacred baths of the Haridwar Maha Kumbh. The three characters meet each other and exchange their stories. They remember the days gone by and are unsure about what lies ahead. As the Kumbh Mela draws towards an end, all three of them are thrown into a challenging situation that they have to face. The book then follows their journey as they try and find answers for their personal quests all at the same time – on life, love, and the thirst for knowledge.
What would you expect from a book about Life..Love and Kumbh? Philosophy, for one. Spirituality, the next, perhaps. The author himself had cautioned that it is a difficult read, which was the main reason I didn’t want to rush through the book. Not having read adequate number of books on Kumbh, and having read arguably one of the best among them (Amrito Kumbher Sandhane, Bangla, by Kaalkut), I had my own expectations. A fellow blogger had joked a few days back about Bengalis reading on all possible topics in Bangla and finding everything else predictable. I wouldn’t argue much. My apologies, if I have rated another book on the same topic higher.
First and foremost, this is one book where I have no complaint with the content, but I was put off by the form. There are typographical and grammatical errors in the first few pages and it continues well beyond. I don’t know if the editors hadn’t touched the manuscript at all. The punctuation is clumsy, too many short sentences are clustered to form a huge one and the reader is bound to get lost at the end of each sentence. I am not fond of such style of writing, it strains my eyes as well as my psyche. Something I didn’t like – an obvious mistake “Ekla Chalo be..”, which would surely irk a lot of people, Bengalis aside. It is also purposefully quite incoherent to extract the essence of chaos. I particularly loved the chapter ‘Morning Snaps’ for its sheer detailing and flavour of the Kumbh. It made me yearn for more chapters of its like, thus reflecting the author’s competence in this genre.