Tag: Review

Daffodils – The Path of Self-Realisation

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,…..  

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” The poem, ‘The Daffodils’, by the renowned Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, is a mysterious blend of Nature and philosophy.

……I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

Often, described as the Nature poetry, the daffodils are seen as an object of beauty that showers happiness in solitude. Indeed, for a school going kid, the poem is an excellent tool that subtly encourages visualisation.

Very recently I laid my hands on a collection, ‘Select English Poems’, compiled by A. Parthasarathy, an acclaimed exponent of Vedanta (Vedanta is an ancient Indian philosophy). The Preface to the book states that the select poems convey great human values, and “it ushers you to the goal of Self-realistion.”

And, there was ‘The Daffodils’, a path to spiritual Enlightenment!

According to the spiritual analysis of  ‘The Daffodils’,   “encompasses the three disciplines followed by meditation: karma (action), bhakti (devotion), and jnana (knowledge).

I stop to re-read the poem again. May be, the poet was a spiritual seeker engaged in selfless services, detached from the worldly pleasures, and who experienced Universal love, “the essence of devotion”. May be, his awareness gained him the Universal knowledge of Oneness.

May be, it was his self realisation that filled contentment.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

I am left wondering.

Split Wide Open

Seance on a Sunday Afternoon is collection of short stories about emotions, situations and circumstances that reflect the little nuances of life. By Deeya Nayar-Nambiar

Set in the modern society of sex and the city, hard-pressed for time, every character is self-indulgent. Shinie Antony pens her stories mysteriously and mischievously like the contemporary artist who paints with bold brush strokes to bring out the symbolism and meaningfulness.

Giving the reader a slice of urban society with its confluence of the dos and don’ts, Seance on a Sunday Afternoon is a collection of short stories that reflect the little nuances of the lives, of human emotions, people in queer situations and circumstances. The stories are a trail of words and word play, poetic at times and prose otherwise.

Shinie lives through the characters, springing them to life to tell their tales as if in flesh and blood. Her bold writing style is not only her freedom of expression but also an expression of bold and sensuous themes on a lighter note. If one sentence provokes laughter, the other moves you to tears.

Even the harsh realities of life as a breast cancer patient, L finds a new meaning to her lost beauty. Elsewhere, a widow re-marries but still cannot come to terms with her first husband’s death. Everything is handled delicately.

Stories like ‘The Sofa’ and the ‘Seance On A Sunday Afternoon’ bring out the feelings of old people and the young, their memories, loneliness, detachments and attachments. In the process of writing, Shinie brings to life inanimate objects such as the sofa, fan and cancer.

Shinie’s tryst with writing is not new. As a journalist she polished her skills in imaginative and intuitive writing and has not looked back since her ‘Somewhere in Gujarat’ and ‘A Dog’s Death’ bagged the first prize in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2001 and 2002.

Fascinated by the dark side of life, and an interest to keep pace with the Net savvy world, Shinie has also attempted to write like a blogger, uses sms language and similies, to explore the mind of a housewife who wants to connect with others in the cyber space.

Indeed, to understand the hidden facts of relationships and life in a city, the reader as a “common man” should sharpen his intellect to decipher or interpret the wit and the beauty of the language and idiom of Seance on a Sunday Afternoon.

Séance On A Sunday Afternoon

Shinie Antony

Rupa & Co, Rs 195

Published in June 2008, btw of Chitralekha Group

Hit Wicket

Politics, religion and cricket blend in relationships marked by friendship, trust and betrayal make a right mix in Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes Of My Life. Making a cameo appearance, Bhagat plays to the gallery.

The story begins with an e-mail that Chetan receives from Govind, a small-time businessman in Ahmedabad who has failed in an attempt to kill himself. Bhagat tracks down the hapless man and the story unfurls when Govind narrates his life like a flashback in a Bollywood film.

While three friends – Govind, Omi and Ishaan – appear as the boys next door who dream to make it big in life. Cricket is the mantra that will fulfill their aspirations. A little boy named Ali is an exceptional cricket player and the three friends want to groom and sponsor the prodigy to make their own dreams come true.

Putting their situation in the contemporary context correct, the attack on the World Trade Centre, the earthquake that shook Gujarat, Ayodhya and the Godhra incident are relived through the characters.

The aftershocks haunt them when the communal riots involve the friends and Ali. “Life will have many setbacks. People close to you will hurt you. But you don’t break it off. You don’t hurt them more. You try to heal it. It is a lesson not only you, but our country needs to learn.”

The 3 Mistakes… is predictable and a quick read. However, it offers little scope for reflection and thinking.

By Deeya Nayar-Nambiar, Published in June 2008, btw of Chitrakeha Publications

Fantastic To Be A Female

Imparting a wealth of information through a collection of anecdotes, Jacqueline Shannon’s book for girls gives a boost to their ego. By Deeya Nayar-Nambiar

Far away from the madding crowd of the saas-bahu serials, tears and indulging in self-pity, Why It’s Great To Be A Girl: 50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule! is a perfect treat for all girls entering adolescence, giving them a brushing up on girl power and the need to recognise their hidden potential.

Women have done better things in life than just be known for being talkative. Not only do they speak more number of words, they are also good listeners. Girls are better at communicating their thoughts with instant messaging and they even have longer attention spans than boys do. Jacqueline Shannon has in an interesting way gives many anecdotes from all walks of life to prove her point.

There is probably a point in the brain pattern and the way women think, but history has witnessed women as change-managers and intruders who entered prohibited areas and came out with flying colours. Otherwise, we would have had only men as doctors and engineers.

Shannon wrote the book based on her daughter Madeline’s pre-school experiences – the gender bias that she encountered when she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up to which she answered “a doctor” being just one instance.

Shannon is fair in her observations and without being prejudiced has tried to knit both the positive and negative aspects to her reasoning. Hence, though “the bad news is that women run fewer than 2 per cent of Fortune 500 companies…. the good news is that the number of woman-founded businesses continues to rise every year.” She takes pride in the fact that girls drive better than boys do.

Moving from its original version, Why It’s Great to Be a Girl: 50 Things You Can Tell Your Daughter To Increase Her Pride in Being Female (1994), the latest book is updated and expanded with the help of Madeline, who is now in college. In the process she has attempted to go global with her anecdotes to reach out to an international audience. Still, most of her anecdotes cater to American readers.

A wealth of information, a collection of anecdotes, Why It’s Great To Be A Girl: 50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule! doesn’t promise to be a guide but is an attempt to boost your self-esteem. “The choice is ours, and even the sky is no longer the limit. That’s why now, more than at any other time in history, it’s great to be a girl, wonderful to be a woman, fantastic to be a female.”

Published in May 2008, btw of Chitralekha Group