How are you feeling yourself post-Diwali? Ready to relax and unwind for the rest of the year? Have you all planned to be at resorts or any comfort places to energize those tired nerves? Anyway, advanced Happy Holidays!!
Its been a little busy for sometime, still I've been planning this post for a long time. This time, it is an area which I've never ventured before- BOOK REVIEW!! I am not that good in writing detailed reviews, especially about books, as half of the details do not stay in my mind after I close a book. But, after reading two books recently, I felt compelled to write something about them. No, they are not the books launched recently, but the old ones. Nowadays, it has become a fashion to launch the book of the first timers in some five-star hotels or famous book shops. If we open our newspapers, we can see some news item in detail about a maiden book launch of the Indian authors. This will make us feel that launching the first book is like a cake walk, but, when we try to do it, we realize that it is never that easy.
The first book I am going to talk about is titled 'The Tennis Partner' written by Abraham Verghese in 90's. A relatively lesser known author, he is a medical practitioner based in US. This book is partly autobiographical, which I least expected to be. The book is a slow starter, but when the momentum picked up, I found it hard to put the book down. Dr. Verghese's marriage was crumbling down, when David Smith, a medical student and a recovering cocaine addict, joins the hospital as an intern under the same person. The doctor, who is passionate about tennis and a great fan of players like Bjon Borg, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl, discovers the same passion in the newly joined intern. Soon they start out a tennis ritual, playing tennis regularly. The intern becomes the doctor's coach teaching him more strategies in the game. They find comfort in each other's company and the doctor who was coping with the broken marriage feels that David has entered into his life in right time. As they stick to their regular tennis routines, they share their emotions with each other and the friendship becomes deeper than the usual man-to-man one. The doctor sees his intern as a 'partner', true to the title of the book. He becomes jealous of David's girlfriends and sees them as opponents. It is an emotional journey in the life of the doctor and the author succeeds in bringing out his own feelings very well. The book is written in a crisp language and brings out the author's expertise in the field of medicine and tennis. A book like this with good language and minimum swear words is hard to come by, compared to some books by current Indian authors. I recommend this as a must read for those who are looking for something different and yet making you somewhat connected to the author. If you want more information about the author you can find the page of Abraham Verghese (in Facebook) created by Knopf and Vintage books.
'Siddhartha' is a novel written by Hermann Hesse which was published around the year 1921. Though I have heard about this book for a long time, I got chance to read it only recently. I expected this book to be boring and full of spiritual sermons and so I was taken by surprise. This story is written as taking place during the time of Gautama Buddha and it is natural that one can initially get confused with the name 'Siddhartha' as Buddha's name was also the same. Buddha is referred as Gotama here. The protagonist of this story is a Brahman who leaves his home in search of spiritual salvation by becoming a member of the wandering group Samanas. He is joined by his best friend Govinda. But soon he becomes restless as he feels that listening to mere teachings without actually undergoing through each phase of life will not lead to true enlightenment. He breaks away from the group and meets a ferryman named Vasudeva who ferries people of all ages across a gushing river. Vasudeva and the ever gushing river become his true guides in the later part of the story. He meets Kamala, a beautiful courtesan of the merchant Kamaswami from who he learns the art of love. Kamala refers him to the merchant Kamaswami from whom he learns the lessons of trade and business. Thus he becomes a rich man and Kamala's lover, but after sometime he realizes that these worldly pleasures are just an illusion and do not give spiritual fulfillment. Rest of the novel is about how he succeeds in finding fulfillment through the worldly experiences and then finding everlasting peace with the help of the ferryman Vasudeva and the river. The author manages to hold the reader's attention throughout the story with just one man's internal journey of life. He brings out in a convincing manner that one has to go through various phases of life to attain spirituality and that experiences are the best teachers of a man. His childhood friend Govinda comes back to him to seek true enlightenment which he found lacking in the years of teachings. Not a murder mystery, not a suspense thriller, but definitely 'unputdownable'.