Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Color I See

Posted by at 12:09 AM
The dust began to settle. The kids of the adjacent street seem to be considerably outnumbered. He checks their infantry once more to be sure. The balloons, the grease-bottles, the powder - yep, this is going to be a one-sided match. He is more than satisfied with the effort his 'comrades' had put up last night. A sinister grin is growing on his lips. It's time.

"Attack!"

Off they run with their weapons towards the kids of Street B. Nothing on their way seems to stop them. The fun has just began, and they have to win the war for their beloved Street A. Curiously though, the team in front of them possesses nothing sizable but wild smiles are smeared on their faces as they are getting annihilated by the A-zoners. The A-zoners, on the other hand, have tasted first blood; there's clear bloodlust in those pairs of eyes and they seem to be getting a little too much involved in the game that has masqueraded as a battle. The sight is pleasing.

It's been two decades before the government could allow the residents to come above-ground.
The deserted roads, abandoned vehicles, the shattered windows, the destroyed buildings spoke of their own tale. The city was torn apart. This used to be a glorious state.  But ever since the third world war, the very sign of life was sucked away for good and the last drop staggered to survive among the veins of the city-its streets. It was thoughtful of The Leaders during the war to have foreseen the obvious and design the underground network of bunkers, lodging and ration-shelves that would help the civilians survive the aftermath of the war. Life would never be the same anymore.

Yet, the people cannot seem to forget the time when they used to celebrate this festival of colors. It was immensely popular among all the age-groups and it was getting accepted in other parts of the world. The Leaders are glad that they were able to preserve some of their so-called 'rich' heritage and culture that their nation, their motherland had once boasted of in the past.

The people of this state had survived the war, and they thought the land above ground was completely wiped away. They never got to know about the gruesome and terrible fate the people of their neighboring states had suffered. Every time they queried about their friends & loved ones who lived in other states of the country, they were assured of their well-being and safety. The Leaders tried to ascertain peace in this way as they could never bring themselves to convey the fact to the people that this very state was chosen to be equipped with superior technology and means of mass survival if the war turned out to be irreversibly destructive. And it did.

The year is 2136. It's springtime. This is Leader SM10E  logging down the first above-ground Holi of Bharatshesh , the sole surviving state of India since the war had ended 22 years ago.

*brief silence*

We were blind when we got into the race to power, harboring the evils of our society as we continued to develop at a steady pace. We were blind when the alliances were formed among the nations of the world. We were blind when the UNO was dissolved. We were blind when we were promised our survival by the mightier nations. We were blind when we cared only for ourselves and not for our children. And today, after 22 years, when our children get to set foot above-ground and celebrate Holi, it is poetic that they decided to use only the black color to play. They had unknowingly chosen what symbolized our 'blindness', and it's only a matter of time when the residents of Bharatshesh will get to know that their beloved nation was reduced to ashes and that they are a part of the only surviving state of the country.

I see the blackened faces of these children, full of pristine happiness. I hope they will not repeat what their ancestors had done. I hope they will find the path to peace and prosperity one day. And I do hope that the color I see will be anything but black when they celebrate Holi in future- I want those days of red, green, blue and yellow hues to return.

*Conclusive electronic beep sound follows indicating the speaker has logged out*

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review: Because SHIT Happened by Harsh Snehanshu [Ebury Press/Random House India]

Posted by at 3:20 PM
"Bold , near-brilliant and a brave attempt to portray the 'other' side of an entrepreneur's life"
Back-cover blurbOn a fateful winter day, Amol Sabharwal, co-founder of one of the most ambitious start- up ventures in the country, yourquote.in, decides to quit. What makes Amol quit his own business venture just when it is on the brink of raising its first round of funding? 

We all have seen failures. We live/lived with them. Very few of us manage to cope with the loss of dreams, the breach of trust, the tarnishing of hopes, and the end of  a friendship. Harsh Snehanshu manages to tell his story of failure when the world seems to crave that every plot about start-up ventures must reach a happy ending. And that, my dear readers,  is a brave thing to do.

I understand my opening thoughts seem a little disconcerted but I assume that  that's the impact the book had on me. And I was right on not reviewing the book after flipping the back cover for the last time right away but to choose to give some thoughts about the story and allow it to sink in - therefore the impact was welcome. The book sets the mood right from the beginning, and there is really not much of a happy-go-lucky theme that arrives page-after-page. There is a lot of negativity, but let me tell you, it was skillfully handled to ensure you don't get afraid to take a plunge, but to rectify your errors by taking a lesson or two from the incidents.  Claimed to be a true story, as a reader/reviewer I reserve no right to judge the people involved in the book whom interestingly I happen to know in real life, but honestly, I understand that the author has tried to ensure he doesn't end up taking the 'hate' route and 'get back' at them.

Let's talk about some key aspects of the book. The plot moves in a near-perfect sinusoidal fashion, there are  well blend ups and downs. The narration is still a bit childish, which is probably because the author is shifting his gears from chick-lit to serious drama. He is honest on that part and that is darn good for his writing. The protagonists are fine but the interest to develop them was missing somewhere. We see the perks and perils of an entrepreneur's life and the author earns full marks for this. The lust element was very significant and played a pivotal role in the decisions that the protagonists made. The premise that was set-up was a bit dark but strong. More brownie points!

The climax was very convincing. The fall was thrilling and heart-breaking; and the momentary  uncertainty of the protagonist with his future was beautifully portrayed. In the end, the message was delivered well and the book did justice to what it promised in its blurb.

Final verdict: When there's a poorly written Anu Aunty novel circulating in the country that is motivating the wannabes, the deftly written Because SHIT Happened actually manages to inspire the readers that the  amateur entrepreneurs must take note of: What NOT to do in a start-up.

My Rating: ♦♦♦♦/5
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