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Book Review : Live from London

Category: General Fiction

Publisher: Rupa & Co.

Pages: 204

Price: 195

With new talent shows popping up like mushrooms on different TV channels and thousands of contestants waiting patiently in lines that extend upto several kilometres, we all know that today’s youth is deeply fascinated by the thought of making a career in one of the performing arts. In her debut novel Live From London Parinda Joshi introduces us to one such character, Nishi Gupta, who is an aspiring singer and is struggling to make it big in the music industry.

Nishi Gupta, a 21 years old girl who lives in London and has big dreams of becoming a singing sensation suddenly finds herself on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent where she messes up her performance and receives harsh reactions from the judges. After the fiasco a devastated Nishi, who is unable to cope with the humiliation she had to face on TV, is determined to leave her mark in the music industry and starts interning at Hues, a record label company. She hopes that her new job would help her build contacts in the music world which would foster her dreams of becoming a rockstar. At Hues she happens to me meet Nick Navjot Chapman, a half Indian, half Canadian singer who oozes charm and is totally irresistible. Soon Nishi and Nick become an “item” and Nishi gets the break she had always wanted, a chance to sing in Nick’s debut album. At this point Nishi is confident that she is all set to become the next big thing in Britain’s music industry. However, fate has something else lined up for her and all of a sudden Nishi lands up in India, trying to get accustomed to a life which is entirely different from the one which she had in London. With this sudden turn of events Nishi finds herself struggling to keep her dream alive.

The book is set against the backdrop of the  British music industry and is neatly divided into two parts, the former dealing with Nishi’s life in London and the latter, her struggle in India although second part is limited  to the last fifty pages of the book. The choice of the words is simple and the sentence construction is lucid and easy to follow.

The novel is targeted at the urban youth, especially girls in their late teens and early twenties who are obsessed with rock-bands, pop stars, metrosexual hunks and a glamorous lifestyle.

To her credit the author has built upon the character of Nishi Gupta really well. Being in my early twenties I could easily relate to it. Nishi is smart, sassy, confident and defiant. She lives with her parents in London and craves for independence and privacy just like most 21 years old girls do. Her dream to make it big in the performing arts is also understandable.

I looked like any other young woman in college in London with heavily layered razor cut, dyed with three different colours- copper auburn and a hint of blonde. It was the kind of funky look everyone was sporting and I was no different.

We also get to meet Nishi’s friends Sarah, Riya, Zac and Arjun each of whom is stylish and delightfully quirky. Nishi’s parents are the stereotypical Indian parents- nagging and overprotective.

Another aspect of the book which impressed me was the author’s attempt to give us an insight into the British Music Industry which forms an integral part of the book.

The UK music scene is quite different from the US. The Pink Floyds and the Deep Purples had once taken the country by storm with ever increasingly progressive elements like obtuse lyrics. Then came Punk rock with their loud and rebellious lyrics which spawned Goth, alternative rock and many more sub genres.

The individual situations, on the other hand, were not well elaborated. At various places in the book I felt that paragraphs lacked completeness. The transition from one scene to another seemed a bit abrupt.

The ease with which Nishi grabs an internship at a record label company is incredible given the fact that she is a newbie and has no prior experience. Her relationship with Nick is also a little rushed. Detailed description of events could have rectified these minor flaws.

I personally feel that the book has a good storyline. Had the author not wrapped up the novel in a hurry and paid more attention to details the book would have been quite gripping.

Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable and makes for a light and pleasant one time read. If you are apprehensive about getting bored on your next train journey you might consider taking this book along with you.

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Book Review : Dream’s Sake

“What keeps your hopes intact?”, you ask. “Dreams” comes the answer. “You should always have one!”, we hear them say, “you should keep your dreams alive. “ And that’s what most of us do. We cling on to our dreams and never let go. They keeps us going, recharging our worn-out systems whenever the stark realities of the big, bad world begin to make their presence felt. But where does one draw the line? To what extent should one go to make one’s dream come true? What if one’s dreams clash with those of others? Come and witness a battle of dreams in Jyoti Arora’s debut novel, Dream’s Sake.

Dream’s Sake unfolds the story of four friends, Aashi, Abhi, Priyam and Sid each of whom steps into the adult life with a baggage from the past. Aashi, who has just moved into a humble locality in Delhi with her widowed mother, has still not recovered from the shock of her father’s sudden death.  However, the memories of the past are not potent enough to deter her  from building castles in the air. She thrives upon the hope that her dreams will one day metamorphose into a shimmering reality, one which will free her from the tyrannical barbs of her middle class life.  Her neighbours, Priyam and Abhi on the other hand have made their peace with their lowly existence. Orphaned in their teenage years this brother sister duo has succumbed to vagaries of life. Sid has grown up to believe that it was his father’s unfaithfulness and negligence that compelled his mother to end her life. He shuns his father’s wealth and finds solace in Abhi and Priyam’s companionship. Romance starts brewing in this little group of their’s which results in happiness for some and broken hearts for the others. In the end a few dreams are realized, a few are shattered and trampled upon leading to disastrous consequences.

This novel had a decent storyline. However, I’ll have to admit that it failed to “wow” me. The story lacks freshness and towards the end of the book I could vividly picturise scenes from a melodramatic Bollywood movie of the nineties being projected on a theatre screen. The story has its fair shares of twists and turns but it tends to become quite predictable in certain places. The characters are anything but eccentric and I could easily relate to them. The book has been written in simple English although I came across several sentences which were unnecessarily cramped with “fancy words”. Simpler words could have easily done the trick and perhaps even conveyed the author’s thoughts a lot more effectively. The aforementioned points notwithstanding the author should be lauded for churning out a reasonably good piece of fiction in her very first try.

In all I would say that this books makes for a light, quick and romantic read.

An extract from the book:

He can be as good as he wants to be and I’ll be as bad as I need to be! We’ll see where it all ends up,” says Aashi.

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Rating: 2.5/5

Category: General Fiction.

Publisher: V&S Publishers

Pages: 266

Price: 195


Thank you, Jyoti for sending me an autographed copy of the book. All the best for your future endeavours.

Please Consult Your Dictionary…

I have spent junior school and most of my middle school years listening to this phrase. It was always lurking in my classroom in obscure places – beneath the duster, inside the bookshelf, behind the blackboard- and once in a while, whenever I had questions like “What is the meaning of this word?” or “How do we pronounce this word?” or “Does this word exist?”, it would manifest out of nowhere right onto my teacher’s lips. This was our English teacher’s answer to most of the questions we had. She kept reminding us of the importance of a dictionary and how one must never miss a single opportunity to consult it so much so that there came a point in my life, sometime during my junior school years, when I was convinced that consulting a dictionary was as important as consulting a physician before swallowing a pill or consulting the family priest before tying the nuptial knot. She made us do it over and over again. Whenever we encountered a new word staring at us from the pages of Onward English* we would grab our dictionaries and run our index fingers vertically over the printed text instead of horizontally for a change.

My junior school English teacher was one of her kind and her deep love for The Oxford English Dictionary was pretty well known. She was a vehement supporter of the do-not-carry-heavy-bags-to-school philosophy but that did not exempt us from carrying this 400 gm mass in our school bags everyday. It had to be with us during the school hours. Punitive actions were taken against defaulters who were subjected to public humiliation. Of course, I am talking about a time when standing outside the classroom with hands behind one’s back and head hung in shame was considered humiliating unlike college days when such incidents created a rage on Facebook and the defaulter was lauded by all and sundry.

We, as students, were expected to be adept at looking up a word in the dictionary. Very often our teacher conducted drills wherein she scribbled a word on the blackboard and challenged us to find its meaning in the minimum possible time. And then, all hell would break loose in our class. Students would dive into their bags, fish out a copy of the dictionary, turn over the pages frantically and start searching the aforementioned word like a treasure hunter looking for gold. The winner was generally awarded a Kismi Bar or one of other such sweet delights.

I have spent many an evening alternating between the Famous Five books and my Oxford English Dictionary. I usually snapped it shut after reading the meaning although my mother always insisted that I read further to learn about the word’s pronunciation, alternate forms, usage etc. Sometimes I took her advice, most of the times I did not.

Somewhere down the line, when the dot com bomb exploded and caught everyone and everything in its flames, a “.com” was placed in front of our beloved dictionary as well. The diving-into-our-bags, flipping-over-the-pages and running-our-fingers-vertically got replaced by enter-the-URL, type-the-word and click. These days I come across very few people of my age who still use the their dictionaries regularly. I know for a fact that I don’t. Almost all the text editors come with an inbuilt digital dictionary and thesaurus thereby obviating the need to seek assistance of their physical counterparts. School going children might use it in school but they rarely use one at home. I encourage my younger brother time and again to use it as much as possible. Even in this age when infants are born tech savvy I feel looking up a word in the dictionary is a skill we must all know. Although considered a bit cumbersome by Gen Z, I think it has its own charm.

A few weeks back, as I was digging through a pile of crap in a cardboard box to find a pair of old spectacles, I stumbled upon an old dictionary of mine, one which had accompanied me to school every single day. It still had a brown laminated cover with a Donald Duck label stuck on it. The curling edges, the about-to-become-yellow pages and the lovely old-book smell which we adore so much transported me to my school days. Somehow, while I was shifting from my old house into the new one it landed up in that cardboard box. Sadly its absence from my bookshelf went unnoticed.

This dictionary now has a space for itself on my bookshelf. I know I won’t be using it much but it’s always nice to have one looking at you all the time.   🙂

So, what about you? When was the last time you consulted your dictionary?


* My English text book in junior school if I remember correctly   🙂

Note: The word dictionary in this post implies a physical dictionary unless otherwise stated.