My Reviews

I wrote an editorial review for Timeless Echoes: Poetry by Balroop Singh. The book is a must-read. For more details and to buy the book, please visit Amazon or Balroop’s blog.

 

 on April 9, 2018
All my life I thought that my emotional reliance on someone was a foregone conclusion, and that my self had to connect with another’s to inject coherence into my life’s abstract manuscript. In several unique ways in Versions of the Self, Christy Birmingham informs that the self can last ‘brutally independent’ longer without such reliance or even when it’s relying on someone. In “Gliding Under Water,” she writes, “I am gliding under the waters and my vision is remarkably clear while my body washes with liquids that contain no mixture of you.”

Christy has succinctly touched on several emotions; that we don’t pause and ponder enough to rationalize. We sense myriad versions of several people, and the only way we could connect with their selves is if it’s a soul-led journey from us, without a destination in mind, in which case, no car had driven my expectations to them. Shake hands, therefore, seeking nothing but simplicity.

“And now it seems he takes the last space in my life, outside of my heart’s walls, and miles from my reality” – she says in “The Capital.” How fierce this self-representation is, so unyielding, that it draws its strength from the innate soul-gem.

Since I’m close to my mother – everyone is and must be – these lines from “As We Walk Together” aimed for my heartstrings: “I feel you take my hand as we walk forward, together, and we inhale the scents that disclose a recent rainfall has occurred.” It reminded me of my childhood and those precious moments I so wish to return to, over and again. But, this heartwarming book wants me to return to my self, even away from the self that gave me birth because my self is the primary cure for all my worries, like the primary network that doesn’t charge out of pocket. My soul is my self and, therefore, always covered.

This is a must-have book for anyone who wants to go beyond the mundane ‘identify yourself’ literature. Sans going beyond, we are nothing but a body without life.

 on March 27, 2018

My tough teen years: not only was my confusion overwhelming, the lack of communication with parents had affected me, and I was left in a secluded space within me. I realize now that all my efforts thereafter were made only to shield myself from the world; and the assaults from the external force, in hindsight, weren’t exactly abuse, ironically.

In the introduction, Dr. Yvette Prior writes “Good conversation involves the open exchange of thoughts, feelings, and ideas,” setting the tone for the book. It is filled with practical examples, quotes, and discussion questions; one being, “which of the conversation blocks do you find most challenging when trying to speak with your teen?” That helps parents ponder and seek answers to help remove the shield from their child. Expending time in shielding oneself takes away all the creative energy that one is supposed to demonstrate to get closer to one’s objectives. This compelling book is a must-read for families who have teenagers in their house. The unpretentious, astute Dr. Prior has delivered a gem, stripping things down to basics that are easily comprehensible.

Since chaotic teen years are all about accomplishing a sense of identity, this line from a poem in the book tugged at my heartstrings: “You will one day fly, soar and glide, and so right now, heal in stride, keep your heart, open wide.”

All I wanted and missed was an open, honest talk with my parents. I wish Dr. Prior’s book were available then. But I’ll use it when my child is a teen. Thank you.

 on March 27, 2018

The very fact – that the author planted a couple of dozen trees for shade and privacy, and when birds arrived, she sought meaning in their arrivals, welcoming more of them, and making herself compassionately available, to note down the events, those little moments, that made sense in a changing world – is wondrous.

In ‘Wondering,’ she writes, “I hear those baby birds louder than ever, must be getting bigger.” In ‘One day’ – “The nest as found, on the ground after the storm, nestlings didn’t make it, we mourned.” Dr. Prior clearly developed an endearing bond with the birds, emphatically concerned that many of their species have become extinct since the seventeenth century, and how we must protect them from extinction.

The bird-themed poems take us to our everyday lives, urging us to reflect and work toward our wellness. In ‘Renew,’ she writes, “Flying in the presence of fear takes faith, my dear.” Indeed, I’d say.

 on March 30, 2018

In a topsy-turvy world where people grapple to make sense of the events around them, they look to literature for a moment of reflection. Poetry by Balroop Singh helps clear the chaos by making life easier to navigate, find, and feel cheerful about.

In The Secret of Being Alive, she writes, “sharp shards of shattered emotions, pierce as I try to gather those sensations, wilderness walks with me; yet a dim, discrete light beckons” – has such spunk, that last shred commanding us to hang on to hope, not rope, as the first step. And, no matter how glossy the outside world looks, there’s always a struggle “beneath that beauty lie broken dreams, beneath that smile recline unspoken words,” which she pens in When Darkness Deepens. What she does in How Can I Thank You? “The dazzling rays of sun, had to pierce through you, to reach me, while the moonlight was all mine,” is pure enchantment.

So many pearls of unalloyed magic glisten in Emerging from Shadows, worth visiting and revisiting. Anyone can externalize, but if one wishes to internalize in a world where emotions are fast dying, grab a copy of this book. Now.

 on March 30, 2018

Reading a book by someone who’s a medical doctor and whose stories weave around hospitals, one might believe that there’d be medical terms aplenty, taking the narrative away from the plot. Incredibly, the medical language is craftily integrated into narration, giving plot lines and character arcs enough space to develop.

“Blood” has two plots spanning different periods, with effortless transitions between them. The fast-paced action in Kashmir coloring the religious divide intersperses with Dr. Pankhudi’s rendezvous with blood donors. Taj, the common link between the two stories, might be a symbolic character of the prevailing political reality in Kashmir. Pankhudi’s idiosyncrasies shine through; her romantic vibes with Taj is a calming effect: her swoons for him are beautifully penned. Everybody’s moving in the story, and “a crowd is the safest and loneliest hideout,” one doctor says.

“Emperor Dhondu” is a coming-of-age tale, where Dr. Oberoi stands out for me. The way he “pivoted on the right foot and swung in a swift, graceful arc,” or when he “asked, bobbing upon his toes” – those quirks keep his character alive. Dhondu lights up the page, telling us that no accomplishment is possible without a well-fought series of stints.

“Nude” is a harrowing tale of two doctors separated by gender, caste, and competition. It lays bare the world behind medicines: the manipulative and revengeful medical students. Vic breezes through this tale, his hostility toward Jui is punctuated with empathy, which is not the case the other way around.

Well done, Dr. Sweety Shinde.