Book Recommendation-Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh


The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was one of the bloodiest, brutal and harrowing events to have taken place. Hindus and Sikhs fled from their homes which are now in Pakistan; Muslims fled from their homes which are now in India.
India was to be a Hindu and Sikh state and Pakistan to be the Islamic state.
People were killed in large numbers. Trains started out filled with Islamic people in India and reached corpses in Pakistan. Trains which started in Pakistan to come to India with Hindus and Sikhs faced the same fate. Men were killed. Indian or Sikh men in Muslim areas were stripped naked and their penises were cut off. In Hindu and Sikh areas, men were stripped and every circumcised penis was killed.
Women were taken a hold of and abused and raped. Hindu and Sikh women were paraded around naked in Muslim areas before being raped by a number of men in front of a throng of onlookers. The same fate fell on Muslim women in Hindi and Sikh areas.
People killed their own children before killing themselves too. They would spare their children and themselves the horror of the Partition, where Hindu, Muslims and Sikh forgot humanity.
Nobody knows which side started the mass atrocities. But neither side stopped. Both were led by people aiming to do worse to the other side than what had been done. Fanatics with the twisted thinking to rationalise killing.
Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan revolves around a little village on the India-Pakistan border, Mano Majra. Mano Majra is in the summer of 1947, when the partition’s atrocities were underway.
Train to Pakistan is written very well. It is an old book, written in 1956(WOW!). It has various elements which were present in older books.
Train to Pakistan’s imagery is beautiful. Khushwant Singh’s Mano Majra is one of the fullest, most complete and fleshed out setting in any book I have ever read. The Fault in Our Stars, All the Bright Places, and The Shadow of the Wind have beautiful stories, but they don’t feature set locations where the story takes place, such as a city or a town.
Everything about Mano Majra is explained.
How people wake up in the morning, their morning rituals, the work they do, how and when they eat food, the interactions they have with each other and when they sleep. The structure of the village, what is at the centre, the lanes leading up to it. The world surrounding the village. The railway station, the rest house near Mano Majra, the fields near the village and the tonga used to transport people to the nearby town of Chundunnugger, where there is the police station.
The host of characters in and around Mano Majra, coming in all throughout the story are as full as Mano Majra. They are interesting, riveting and exquisitely written. You hate some, and love some. They’re all real. And depending on mind sets, everyone will love and hate different characters. That’s the power of this book’s writing.
The characters are riveting in portrayal but polarising in reception.
I curse my writing skills here. Because at times when I want to be more expressive, my skills are insufficient in completely describing my feelings.
Going on a tangent, the thing about life is that at times, things happen to people which are not fair. Maybe because they don’t have enough exposure, or maybe because there were people who were more cunning and enterprising. Such situations have happened to all of us; more often than we would like to admit. And we face these more often than the good ones.
The people in Train to Pakistan often find themselves in such situations, through no fault of their own. Due to most of our upbringing revolving around action movies and heroic caricatures of characters, we feel something heroic could have been done. But the truth is, in such situations, we all often lack the awareness, courage and spontaneity to do so.
And the ending!! I loved the ending! Another facet of life, is that in desperate times, we take desperate measures. Those desperate measures reveal who we are. The ending was perfect, so beautiful. It summed up everything, perfectly.
Like I said, my skills aren’t at the point where I can frame and tell you how much I loved the ending.
Train to Pakistan is a terrific novel. I loved it. It is a story about the Partition, people, and morality of people. It’s a book which everyone will find to be enlightening and a very fluid read.

Train To Pakistan has been the best book I’ve read in 2017 so far, which comprises of four books right now(This, A Painted House by John Grisham, I Will Marry George Clooney(by December)  by Tracy Bloom, The Shakespeare Curse by J.L Carrell), this is by far the best. And this book will continue to be one of the best of 2017 as well, no matter how many more books I read this year.
An amazing book!
Happy Reading!


The Fault in our Stars-The Best book I’ve ever read


Ever since I’ve delved into stories, in the form of video games, movies, books and songs, I’ve had a great disposition towards stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. There is a lot of variation in the presentation of stories in all the mediums; but the emptions, or what the story makes you feel when presented to you remains constant. If a story is well executed, it will make you feel things. Make you cry, or cracking up with laughter, or put you in a deep state of thought. It could be a movie, a video game, a song or a book.
Like I said, I have a soft spot for stories which are real, deep and heartfelt. These are often stories which revolve around characters. Show them growing, having beautiful interactions. Movies about human will and love, and which tear you up or leave you with a single tear at its sheer beauty. I haven’t been able to put it exactly. But stories which leave a deep impact on you, especially emotionally.
The Last of Us in video gaming. That game is a masterpiece. I have played over 200 games by now, from 2005, on the Gameboy, Gamecube, PSP, PC and PS3. Never have I ever played a game remotely like The Last of Us. Its story, its direction, its execution. I remember applauding and having a single tear at the corner of my eye when I ended this game. Naughty Dog (the developers of The Last of Us) managed to make a game and redefine what a game could make you feel. Never before had a game left such a deep and lasting impact on me.
Movies like Good Will Hunting, Wall-E, Filmistaan, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Up in the Air, Dil Dhadakne Do, Piku, This is Where I Leave You have drawn and mesmerised me. They are beautiful films with stories about the human condition; with amazing character development and inspiring or amazingly emotional dimensions.
These movies are amazing. However my disposition for story has often lead me to alienate various other fantastic movies. Which may have amazing direction or cinematography but not so great in story, such as Gladiator, Zootopia to name a few.
In terms of books, there are only two. Two books, which have stories so powerful, so impacting, you felt for their characters and were as much a part of their problems as they were. I’ve mentioned this in a number of articles. One if A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The second one is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
I’ve mentioned in various articles before how much I love this book and the bar at which I keep it. It’s a beautiful book.
At its basest, The Fault in Our Stars is a tale about life, not cancer. It uses the background of people with cancer to shed light about life. It talks of such vivid and real concepts and describes them perfectly. “Funerals are for the living”, “Depression is not a side effect of dying. It’s a side effect of cancer”, “Pain demand to be felt”, “I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes UP”.
I cannot describe how much a lot of these quotes and concepts have impacted me. I remember, me reading to my friend (now my girlfriend) and she reading me back our favourite verses from The Fault in Our Stars. It was a beautiful talk.
Then there are the characters. The book has two types of characters: those with cancer and those without. Most of the characters without cancer are in some way related to the characters with cancer. The characters are real, their sufferings as real and painful and heartfelt as those with cancer. All the characters, with and without cancer are all reeling from the side effects of life. John Green beautifully explains that with every sentence.
Hazel’s mother was one of my favourite characters in the story. Her character was powerful. A parent whose child has cancer and she knows her child will most probably kick it from cancer. She embraces it and chooses one of the most beautiful, poignant way of reacting to it. Even though that particular dialogue is never given that much attention whenever we talk about this books greatest scenes, it is exceptionally moving and powerful.
The Fault in Our Stars also does something which happens rarely in the world. It talks about people with a disease like normal people. Not people who are less than anyone because of a disease or deserve our pity.
At the same time, it’s not a preach about cancer. It’s simply a story about people, with cancer.
The emotions of this book are very well written and powerful to say the least. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I know a lot of friends who’ve cried at this book, who’ve sat thinking about their own feeling, while or after reading it.
I feel the same intensity of emotions on each of my five reads of this book.
While there are a lot of heavy memories for this book, there are also a lot of lighter ones associated with it. While also being one of the most emotionally intense stories, it is also one of the funniest and hilarious ever. A lot of the humor comes from Gus, with his combination of wit, spontaneity and word play. This doesn’t mean other characters don’t have their moments. They all get their moments to shine comically.
I laughed and I chuckled and I giggled a lot of the time reading The Fault in Our Stars. The Fault in Our Stars even doesn’t cheapen humor or depreciate it as a place holder or make it feel inappropriate or sheepish, which most modern stories tend towards. It has the best use of humor I have ever seen in a book. It made me laugh even at the most intense of moments without undermining the emotions or the laughter. The humor worked very organically.
With its combination of emotion, humor, reality, life and characters, The Fault in Our Stars stands as one of the most complete novels of this decade. It has a delicate sensitivity towards cancer; never mocking, caricaturing or exaggerating it.
It is a book everyone must read once in their life.
Now, most people will disagree with my next few words. Because we often reserve this word for movies, or games or novels or songs which are revolutionary, defining, usually epic in nature. Words we don’t often associate with Young Adult Fiction. We’ve used this word for The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, The Last of Us, Uncharted 2, and Half Life 2. The Fault in Our Stars is a masterpiece.

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I’ve had this post pent up in me since the day I revived this blog in 2016. This is the Book Recommendation I have wanted to write since the beginning, and I’ve finally found the impetus to do so after watching the terrible movie adaptation( Lol!).

But this book is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I hope all my feelings regarding this book have been properly conveyed to everyone reading this article. This one, and this book, are close to the heart.

Happy Reading!

Book Recommendation-The Gift by Cecelia Ahern


Continuing with the tradition of bad jokes; I never thought I would be writing a book recommendation about a Cecelia Ahern book. The first and possibly only Cecelia Ahern book I started off before this was “Where Rainbows End”. I dropped the book after thirty pages because it just seemed so, stupid. “Where Rainbows End” seemed like a drag of a book which was full of characters who made weird choices all the time. The characters just seemed to be, I don’t know, too unbelievable.

“The Gift” though, is a book that warrants a read. It has a very beautiful concept. It stars Lou as the protagonist of the book. Lou, like most people alive today, has the odd illness of being at two places at once. When he is in the shower, he is thinking about presentations and meetings he had to give in the day. When he is listening to his five year old daughter, he is also listening to the news. When he is having breakfast, he is thinking about lunch. At lunch, dinner. At dinner, after drinks. At after drinks, about something else if he is lucky enough and hasn’t had much to drink. And just like that, he is always at two places at once.

It is obviously a condition we all relate to. We’re having breakfast and we’re still tired. Thinking about how bad our sleep last night was or the drag of a day we will have to suffer. Then at lunch, we think about how much we have braved and what little is left more to brave. And when we finally reach home, we throw ourselves on our beds, confident we are too tired to do anything else and thinking about what kind of a day it was or what we will do, when we have energy or on Saturday or Sunday. Always thinking about what we can do or where we want to be without actually enjoying where we are.

The other tie in issue that crops up every now and then is greed. The want for more. Want for a bigger office, more pay, a more material life, and more extra-marital affairs. Lou is the embodiment of all this. He has affairs with his secretaries, his nanny and so many more women in his office He wants the job that was recently vacated by his colleague after a nervous breakdown. He wants the bigger office, the higher pay. And he works all the time for it. He rarely spends time with his family. His wife, his five year old daughter or his ten month old son. He thinks what matters are the car he drives, how much he earns and provides; not how much time he spends with his family. He doesn’t admire his wife, he doesn’t play with his daughter. He doesn’t know how to handle his son. Hell, Lou has never changed his diaper. Lou has forgotten what matters in life.

The plot is very hackneyed. It has been done so many times, by so many people that when you start reading the book, you can’t help but feel that this book will just be another run of the mill drama. But the first word on, this book has something you know will salvage it, even if the plot falters towards the end (even though it does not. WOOOHOOO!!). Because Cecelia Ahern does the one thing most writers prefer not to do: She takes very tough and brutal decisions for her characters.

Cecelia Ahern’s writing style in this book is terrific. The ways he describes every little detail, be it about the neighbourhood on Christmas morning, or a Police Station, or a little living arrangement in a basement is terrific. Or the way she describes greed. That is one definition you will not be forgetting for a long time. She uses beautiful similes and metaphors to make the environments most people won’t be familiar with feel instantly relatable.

The way Ahern writes about Lou, is the way a human would react in all those situations. No matter how melodramatic or whiny or loser like, if you may it feels. The way he reacts when some weird things happen and the way he is reckless and greedy and eventually reforms himself. It all feels real. At one point, I actually thought she was trying to keep Lou as an asshole. But it was only after I thought long and hard and re-read those words did I understand how wrong I was. Change in humans cannot come all at once, unlike what many stories say. And Cecelia Ahern knows that. She knows that people cannot change in a single day or through a single action. Their old habits, their pre-conceived notions and biases cannot all go away in a single day or a single act. Many books will have you that a person can change in a single day with a single act, but those books have characters who have some other worldly seeming powers. Lou has no such things. Even after he starts doing what he loves, his habits still keep on following him, and he caves in, and that’s not necessarily bad.

In all honesty, I never thought I would ever be writing a book recommendation for a book by Cecelia Ahern. But “The Gift” caught me off guard. It’s a book that I would akin to the various drama movies that pass us by in the theatres, but much better. It’s not the best, but it’s a book that is a casual read, with its simple story and simple words. A great way to kill some time and read a good story while at it.

Book Recommendation-The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


The Shadow of the Wind. A book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in our world. A book by Julian Carax in the world spun together by Carlos Ruiz Zafón in this novel.

The Shadow of the Wind, both the books that you get to know about, the one you read whole written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and the one you get to know about by Julian Carax are both books that seem of a different era of writing. A different style of writing books altogether. You don’t find books like these anymore. You will fall in love with the one by Carlos Ruiz Zafón because of how well he has written it. The words. The way Zafón strings together his words and the perfect way with how each character’s words feel real. His ink drips with the beauty of the Barcelona it is set in. His words give rise to the characters who are running around, bathing in the storms and rains and snowfalls and sunlight and bullets of that Barcelona. And the words and phrases he uses! Bellicimo. Beautiful. Words fail short for the masterful way he strings his words together. ‘A secrets worth depends on the people from who it must be kept.’ ‘The violet streaks of sunlight from between the clouds. ‘As if I believed that with that kiss I could deceive time and convince it to pass us by, to return some other day, some other life.’ As the tale goes on and on, you want more. More of the words, more these characters running around for their quest. You want to know their stories, the ones who are alive and also the ones who are dead, or about to die. Because as long as we remember someone, they never die. Even if we remember them in the dusty recesses of our mind.

The book, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón centers around Daniel Sempere, a boy of ten who finds the book “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books; feeling as though the book by Carax was waiting for his, maybe even before he was born. That night, he goes back home and reads the book full, well into the next morning. He has never heard about the author, Julian Carax. Nor has anyone else. All that is known is his books have a high price in the book collectors’ collection due to a legend related to all books by Carax.

Intrigued, Daniel sets off to uncover the legend of Julian Carax, who he was, or is, and what happened to him ,as his last steps are shrouded in mystery, and so his life.

The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a thriller, a drama, a love story, a coming of age and a documentary about the Spanish Civil War. Whew! Most authors can barely manage a good thriller and this guy multitasks his genres. The book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón easily sneaks its way into one of the best books I’ve read. Like I said, nobody writes books like these anymore. It’s rare to find such dedication to a book and such detail and insane characterization as well. This book is almost perfect. Had it not been for a single hiccup in the story, the book would have been perfect (for me). Well up among my two favourite books, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini.

Now as for the hiccup. In most stories, especially thrillers, only the keen readers, whose singular quest is to find out the identity of the killer or the plot twist before its reveal and read and re read every page to be sure of the details find out. But in The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the revelation of the twist is not grand. Because the chapters preceding it give you all the information you require to guess the twist and when it finally comes, you’re like “Cool. I know. Cool. Had to be it” rather than “Oh My God! Are you kidding me? No No No” sort of a feel.

The Shadow of the Wind is a rare book. Very few writers now a days write even stories remotely close to this one. Fact is, most of us writers now a days limit our imagination to an acceptable limit that we feel is fine. Carlos Ruiz Zafón lets it run wild and lets all those words fall on paper. We write a bit in fear of exceeding that limit. Zafón has set no limit and hence writes fearlessly. This is one book I would recommend to everyone. This book is a must read. One of the most amazing tales ever spun that deserves all praise showered on it.

It has been a long time since my previous book recommendation, that being of The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is sadly because the quality of books I’ve read in the past couple of months has been abysmal to say the least. Books that seemed great but were anti-climatic, or books that were just too darn stupid. Finding books that really make sense and feel great are becoming tougher and tougher to find. The Shadow of the Wind and The Gift(by Cecelia Ahern)(Never thought i’d like a Cecelia Ahern book) have been the two good books I’ve read in the past month or so, despite having read about six books.