The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahiri: Book Review

Image Courtesy: Google

Back Cover Review:

In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar. Little does he know that his life will change forever.

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it.

They say homing pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. The Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

My Review:

This is the secod time I am writing this review. I had posted this yesterday and today I find out there is no mention of the said post here, not even in drafts :(. Anyhow typing it all out again, hope it turns out as good as before! So here goes:

When I opted to review the Homing Pigeons, I had envisioned reading a love story.. Few pages into the book, I realised how truly wrong I was! This was not just a love story, but so much more than that. I portrayed the struggles of Aditya and Radhika, their journey from childhood to adulthood.

In India, where a guy’s marriageable worth is measured by his bank balance, it is interesting to note the internal struggles of Aditya in his career, his mad rush to earn more and more money just so that he can prove he is better than an NRI. It really is sad that instead of character, bank balances are given more importance in arranged marriages. And the struggle he had to put up after loosing his job, is beautifully sketched. It reminded me of the lead character of Paulo Coelho’s “Eleven Minutes”.

I believe this story should be read by all parents who blackmail their “kids” who are adults to leave the partner of their choice because of caste and force them to marry someone of their choice. It’s sad that parents put their own children to a life full of regrets and what ifs and not love. I have said it before and i will say it again, FORCED marriages NEVER work. NEVER. You can emotionally blackmail a person to marry but you cannot make him/her love. And it is hard enough to support a marriage with love, it is impossible to have a happy marriage without love. I wish parents would stop being so selfish.

Even more than Aditya’s Journey, I liked Radhika’s journey. It highlighted the plight of a girl  child. How when in time of giving up a child for adoption, her parents choose her, not her brothers. The expressions of her foster-father while he came to know he had a daughter and while he came to know he had a son, clearly told who was more welcome. It was interesting that though Radika’s parents treated her as a liability, they still thought it was their place to force her to marry an NRI!

Among the side characters, I loved Divya’s Character. She is independent, unashamed and just Rocking! I would have liked to know more about her.

Oh, and this book comes with its own music! Download it at www.sidbahiri.com. It is good music.

Coming to the negatives, I felt a need for more detailed character sketches of the side characters, I would have liked to know what kind of people they were.

The book had a few pages missing and some pages were repeated, so that really disturbed the reading process.

But other than that, a good book!

I thank The Reader’s Cosmos for the copy of the book. To know more about them do visit: thereaderscosmos.blogpost.com

Crimes Against Women by The Wall Street Journal: Book Review

Subtitle: Three Tragedies And The Call To Reform In India

Book Cover Description

As 2012 came to a close, news of gang rape of a young woman in India’s capital generated headlines around the world. Her assault on a moving bus with a metal rod, and her death two weeks later from her injuries, focused attention o the dark side of the world’s largest democracy: the struggle that faces many Indian women in a country where chauvinistic and misogynistic attitudes prevail.

The Wall Street Journal’s India burea explored this horredus crime and others that explore the experience of Indian woman in 21st century. The reporting in all stories stands out for it’s gripping detail and it’s emotional pull.  In many cases central figures involved in these everyday dramas were speaking for the first time.

The book begins with a story of a Catholic nun murdered in rural India as she tried to preserve ancient tribal ways in the face of mining expansion, while also coming to the aid of a woman who had allegedly been raped.

Next is the reveting account of a young woman from rural Bihar who was duped into moving to Delhi, where she was forced to marry or go into prostitution- and the disaster for her and her family that ensued. The woman broke her long-held silence to speak to the WSJ about what happened.

The book ends with the WSJ’s world-beating coverage of the New Delhi Rape case, including intimate potraits of the victim and her friend who tried to save her but couldn’t. He granted the WSJ intimate and exclusive access to his side of the story.

In this book, we are brining togather these stories- in many cases updated with fresh details of the individual’s lives – to show the hopes and the  catastrophies, the bravery and the abuse that are the daily lot of millions of India’s women.

My Thoughts:

I had earlier applied for a book from Harper Collins and was disappointed when they did not send me one 😦 So this time around when I applied for this book, I had no hopes of ever having it in my hands, and was quite surprised whe all of a sudden I received this book! Thak you Harper Collins, you made my day!!

This book did a commendable job in bringing to light the human side of the crimes. Normally i news we see sensasnalization, the distorted facts all to generate interest. But WSJ delves deep into the crimes, to understand the mindset of the bravehearts, what they did, how they were abused and how to stood up to their abusers.

When the crimes are put in this light, victim blaming becomes non-existant. People are forced to see that those they considered victim, those whom they thought were ‘asking for it’ were infact no different than themselves, and then instead of thinking ‘she must have asked for it’ they would start thinking ‘What a terrible crime the abuser has done’.

This book is a good read to understand the lives of people, people just like us, who were wronged because of the misognistic society. If people who pick up this book THINK why this happened, how did traditional patriarcial mindset of the abusers made them do what they did, and what can I do about it, then we might be able to feel the winds of change.

Sarah Kay: If I should Have A Daughter: A TED Talk

A beautiful talk that inspired two standing ovations! Here is what she said:

“If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”

She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.

And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.”

But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.

You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.”

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.

Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.”