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Book Review: Mango People In Banana Republic by Vishak Shakti

Disillusionment with one’s career is a common pattern among millennials these days and Ravi Bhalerao is no exception. He is a business strategy consultant who is among those hundreds and thousands who are unsure about the future.

What sets him apart is that he decides to quit his job, ditch the urban life and shift to his ancestral village in Vidarbha, infamous for drought and farmer suicides. No this is not the plot of ‘Swades’ but a blurb of the book ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ by Vishak Shakti.

This is also the story of Anand, a former physicist who has set on a spiritual quest through esoteric India. He seeks refuge in the Ashrams of various babas and gurus, Beleaguered by the shenanigans of the various cults, he questions the path to “liberation” that he was treading so far.

On the other hand, Ravi comes across India in her elemental form in Vidarbha. He finds a mission, encounters love and embarks on a path of redemption from his disillusionment.

As the name suggests, ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ is a light-hearted take on the current situation of the country. As Ravi sets out on a search for personal identity, we are also taken on a ‘discovery of India’ ride by the author. With tongue-in-cheek writing, oodles of wit and humour, and a pacy narrative, the book easily wins hearts.

Being an enthusiast of Indian politics, and social activist of sorts myself, this book was relatable to a huge extent. Hailing from a small town, I have often felt disillusioned with the fast-paced city life, the corporate ‘snakes and ladders’ and also faced moments when I had no clue where my life was headed.

Gandhi Ji had truly said true India resides in the villages. And often I have realised this when I have visited rural Bengal (or even the small mufassil towns). Ravi’s quest for self-identity, juxtaposed against the societal and political ills that ail our great nation, and how he chooses to fight them, touches a chord indeed.

To sum up, ‘Mango People In Banana Republic’ is a delightful read on a hot summer afternoon, with a plateful of mangoes to munch on as you turn the pages. Looking forward to reading more of Vishak Shakti’s works.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by Writersmelon.





Book Review: A Day in the Life by Anjum Hasan

Like her poetry, Anjum Hasan’s new book ‘A Day in the Life’ gives us an insight into the world through a new prism. Her characters are diverse and the stories are about their daily lives. The 14 stories give us a sense of the world that resides inside us, within the confines of the skull. A glimpse into the psyche of these characters takes us through their insecurities, complexes and whims.

Even the setting of the stories gives us a sense of an era gone by. Take the first story for example. In ‘The Stranger’ the retired protagonist leaves his fast-paced metro life and shifts base to a quaint, small town to experience the life in a hilly place. Throughout the story one expects something to happen. But the drudgery of the small town existence sails through till the end of the story. Life goes on.

Anjum Hasan explores the complexities of relationships in her second story ‘Sisters’. Female bonding is the underlying theme of the story, which also stands out for the enigmatic and aesthetic portrayal of friendship between Janaki and Jaan.

My favourite story in the lot is ‘A Short History of Eating’. Hasan beautifully describes how liberalisation has fuelled consumerism, thus creating desire and the urge to eat more. Liberalisation has affected each one of us – from what we eat to what we read. This is also reflected in ‘The Question of Style’ which deals with the desire of the two young protagonists to “become stylish”.

In fact, each of the stories has an undercurrent of intimacy in the treatment of the characters, and the dynamics between them. The protagonists are introverts, with volumes of vulnerability in them. The innate desire of these men and woman to carve a leave a mark in the mundaneness of existence, is the driving force for you to read on.

Anjum Hasan’s wizardry of words is exemplified in the prose. Not only do the written words make an impact, the things left unsaid make the reading experience even more pleasurable.  One can only wait in anticipation for her next work, to be transported into a world of fantasy that exists well within the humdrum of daily life.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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