The year was 2001. I used to work as a Marketing Consultant, for ailing organizations severely in need of a revamp. I remember being approached by an organization with its branches in various Indian cities, literally pleading me to bring one of their sickest branches back on its feet. It was a risk; a grave risk. It was a risk, not only for my reputation as a consultant, but also for my ego. What if I fail? What if it is already beyond repair? What if salvaging is the only option left? And more importantly, what if I fail?
In order to counter that many risks glaring at me right in the face, I knew I had to take a few risks of my own; and take risks, I did. I went to that branch office, met each one of their staff members, fired every one of them and hired a brand new team- except a couple I thought I could use to the organization’s benefit. By the end of the first two months, the branch filed its best result ever with a clean profit margin of 250%. My risk had paid off.
The reason of my boring you with my accomplishment was not to boast of my accomplishments, but to emphasize the fact that not every risk pays off. Some do, some don’t.
At the onset, I would like to applaud Vaachakmitra (that’s the author’s pseudonym), for taking a huge risk by choosing an experiment like ‘The Multitudes of Ripples’ as his maiden act. Did the risk pay off? Let’s try and find out.
The reason I called ‘Multitudes of Ripples’ an ‘experiment’ is because that is what it is, and at one too many levels at that. The book is completely autobiographical, where the writer takes the readers through his entire life journey, right from the childhood to the later years as adult. Why then, did he decide to set it in a fantastical city called Mohmayi, is beyond my comprehension.
The narrative, I found to be unnecessary stretched and tedious. To cite an example, I do not see any need to go into a detailed, parenthetical explanation every so often. It only ends up making the read ‘difficult’ for the reader. I wonder what prompted the writer to go into that much of ‘telling’! Was it because he wasn’t sure of his writing being good enough to be easily understood, or he had doubts about the ability of the readers to make sense of tough reads like this one? Either way, I would hold the publisher responsible for this. It should have been the job of the editor, to take off all those unwarranted peripherals and replace those with easier, shorter words. The editor clearly hasn’t done his job, as has not the proofreader. The grammatical errors and typos are abounding throughout the book. By the way, is there a reason for 'Multitudes'? Multitude is plural in itself; why add extra 's' to it?
I’d say ‘The Multitudes of Ripples’ could have been a path-breaking book, but the monotonous, soporific narrative ended up making it an achievement-to-finish-it kind of read.
I give the book, 3 out of 5 stars.
Let me start this review, by telling what is it that I really do expect in a novel. I'm sure you, the readers, will be able to relate to it well too. So, here goes... I expect a good and binding story-line, a seamless and flowing narrative, relatable and likeable characters, and impeccable yet easy dialogues.
Too much to expect, I know. Did I get at least some of them, in 'With You I Dance'? Well, not really.
I didn't get 'some' of them; I got them all and much more, much, much more.
As a reviewer, I get to read and review 3-4 books every month from different authors around the globe. It is bound to start becoming a little monotonous and repetitive after a while, especially so, when every other writer decides to play it safe and stick to the proven & popular genre of romance. How many love stories can one read after all? How many typical Bollywood styled girl-meets-boy-they-fall-in-love-in-comes-the-villian-fight-ensues-boy-wins-and-they-live-happily-ever-after stories can promise originality, to any extent, if at all.
And just when you are about to take a stand and totally give up on romance as a genre, in comes a book like 'With You I Dance'. It not only takes your ugly plant of preset notions and snatches it right off of the ground, but sows another tender plant, with a small bud of a beautiful flower waiting to blossom. The flower, striking deep red in color, the color of love. I shall be forever grateful to you, Aarti Venkatraman, for writing this book and restoring my faith.
'With You I Dance' is a story of a young girl, Meera. She is not your typical Indian girl, mind you. She just won't give in to anyone's demand that she finds unreasonable or to be against her belief system; not even if that anyone are her own parents, who wants her to get married and give up on her dream of becoming a ballerina. Meera doesn't give up, she stands tall and protests till her parents relent and allows her to go to N.Y.C., and learn professional ballet at the prestigious Juilliard school. In comes a twist in the tale, and Meera somehow ends up screwing up her big chance, her career, and the love of her life, Abeer. Somehow the same Abeer, along with her childhood friend Zoya would be the ones who will help her to stand up back on her feet and fulfill her dream somehow, later in life. Does Meera end up happy? Do Meera and Abeer get back together, or he and Zoya are just helping an old friend out of sympathy?
The author, Aarti Venkatraman, has oh so beautifully portrayed all her characters, complete with their little flaws, their fears, strengths, shortcomings, longings, and desires. That is the one secret of making them relatable and real-to-life, for the reader. The language used is impeccable, to say the least. The flow is unhurried yet lucid.
Overall, I'd climb right to the top of the tallest building in town, if I have to, and recommend this book to everyone out there. If you're in love, you would relate; if you've fallen out of it, you'd scratch your way back in; and if you've never fallen in love, well...I guarantee, you will.
I give this book, a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of anthologies, and quite a good number of biographies and memoirs too. Never before however, did I get a chance to read an anthology OF biographies, before ‘She Walks, She Leads- Women who inspire India’, by Gunjan Jain.
Excited by all that I had heard about the book online I started to read it, and by the end of the first paragraph of the Introduction, I was convinced that the book is full of feminist, anti-men views and stuff like that. I was wrong. It does nothing of that sort. In fact, the book is a celebration of womanhood. It is a celebration of the feminine, not the feminism.
‘She Walks, She Leads’ is a compilation of inspiring life journeys of 24 Indian women. The entire list of 24 has been cleverly divided into six categories namely:
1) Altruism and other interests; which includes Nita Ambani, Parmeshwar Godrej, Sudha Murthy, Yasmeen Premji, and Rajshree Birla
2) Corporate, Banking, and Law; where you’d find Indra Nooyi, Zia Mody, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Swati Piramal, Chanda Kochhar, Naina Lal Kidwai, and Anu Aga
3) Fashion, Arts, and Empowerment; including Anamika Khanna, Ritu Kumar, and (Late) Jyotsna Darda
4) Media; which features Shobhna Bhartiya, and Indu Jain
5) Sports; which has Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, and Sania Mirza; and
6) Entertainment; which includes Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, and Mira Nair.
Now, all of us would know something or the other about almost all of these personalities. What then, one would gain by compiling all those stories together and put them in a book? The answer is simple. That’s not what this book is; it’s not a randomly-put-together-stories-off-of-the-internet. This is a deeply researched and well documented book, which has first person accounts of not only the 24 leaders, but also of their near and dear ones. This, in my opinion, lends the book a fair amount of credibility and makes it all the more interesting, taking it notches above than a monologue.
The author, Gunjan Jain, has painstakingly described her personal meetings and interviews with all these people, without being judgmental at any point. In fact, the way she has described that in detail- right from the décor of the room, to the protagonist’s attire and jewelry- helps the reader in imagining them in real life. Celebrating feminism, as I said. J
Once going through the list of names in the ‘Content’ section, I decided to junk the chronological order and go with my personal choices. My list went; Mary Kom, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Saina Nehwal, Priyanka Chopra, Sudha Murthy, Sania Mirza… After I was through with these six, I went back to the content section, and what I found out disturbed me to a certain extent.
Unknowingly, I had chosen to read about all those first who I knew had had a tough start. They were the ones who were not born with the proverbial silver spoons, and had to literally fight their way to the top. Six out of 24. Does that mean, the rest 18 did not have to go through struggles and hardships? I thought so; and once again, I was proven wrong to a good extent. ‘She Walks, She Leads’ talks about the fights and struggles of all of them, both internal and external. While some of them had to face opposition on the home front, others fought their way through the patriarchal mindset of the people at work and around. What’s common with all of them is that they all had to face the ‘glass ceiling’, at one point or the other in their lives.
My only complaint with Gunjan Jain, is her use of the term ‘Female leaders’. A leader is a leader is a leader, irrespective of the sex. You don’t say ‘Male leaders’, do you?
Overall, ‘She Walks, She Leads’, is a well-written, well-researched, well-crafted book of life stories of 24 Indian leaders; and I recommend it to anyone in need of a quick shot of inspiration.
I give this book, a 4.5 out of 5 stars.