Friday, January 21, 2011

Vote for us!!

Our blog has been selected has been selected for the final round of Best of Indian Blogosphere (BoIB) 2010 polls under the category Books.

Please vote for us!! The polling is active till 13th Feb and results will be declared on 16th Feb.

Vote for the blog please!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Madhouse: True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4, IIT Bombay

As soon as someone mentions IIT, it conjures  respect and awe but also at the same time we  imagine a non-interesting, studious and serious life. What many don’t know is the whackiest, weirdest fun is had in the hostels of IIT.  The life at IIT Hostel always intrigued me, since I am married to an IITan. Anyone who is married or has dated an IITan would agree that it is almost like a secret brotherhood, the stories and the fun or things that they have done in those years remain strictly between them. It is almost sacred and not for public sharing. One knows a wild time was had, weird nick names shared, whacky things done but it is never discussed with families.

Madhouse: True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4, IIT Bombay is a book that will give the reader an insight of what goes around these hostels. It is a compilation of all the ex-students of IIT Bombay who lived in Hostel 4. Starting from their ragging days to their graduation ex students have recalled memorable incidents of their life in hostel.  The compilation is specifically of IIT Powai, Hostel 4 passouts but the episodes will give the reader a fair insight into the life at IIT.  Happy stories, funny stories, laugh out loud stories the book has it all. Most of the stories though are from the students of 80s.

Reading the book made me realize why these men bond just so much, how friendships are made forever, why such elaborate efforts for a reunion are made whenever even a single friend comes visiting from abroad.  The shared experiences, the shared jokes, the shared past every time they meet come alive. Even as an outsider you can’t help but notice the bond of friendship, trust they share. 

The book, as one reads it, one can figure out the tremendous effort that would have gone into getting stories from all the ex-students, considering most of them lead busy lives in different corners of the world. 

Excellent initiative but honestly a book that would be enjoyed strictly by people who have lived in that hostel.

About the Editors:

Urmilla Deshpande lived in Bombay in the 1980s, when most of this book took place, and has close connections with IITans herself. This is her first book as editor. Urmilla now lives in Tallahassee, Florida. Her published work includes A Pack of Lies and Kashmir Blues. She is now working on Slither: Carnal Prose by Urmilla Deshpande. It is a collection of short fiction, and will be available in 2011.

Bakul Desai is a Hyderabad-based businessman who graduated from IIT, Bombay in 1982. He is currently on the Board of Directors of IIT Bombay Alumni Association. He lives in Hyderabad with his wife, daughter and his colourful memories of his days in IIT where he lived for five years in a black-and-white era.

Book Reviews

The blog, when I started it, was a small attempt to give an honest review about the book I had read.  Within a year the blog grew from strength to strength and has now branched out into other book related events such as a book club, book contests, author meets and book launches.  

The blog wouldn’t be what it is today without a few of my friends especially Kiran Manral who kept encouraging me to continue writing my reviews. The blog has also had many contributors who have sent their reviews for the blog. And the last but not the least the blog readers/followers who have been leaving their comments, feedback to ensure that my motivation levels stay high to keep writing and talking about books. So a very big thanks to all you lovely people for showing the blog so much love and appreciation.

Moving forward I would really like to see the blog become a one stop place for all book related information and keep the book lovers engaged and interested enough to keep returning to the blog!

The blog is looking for book reviewers who would be interested in reviewing books and having them published here. 

We will be creating a google group for those interested in reviewing books for the blog and will keep posting books that are up for review periodically.

As of now we are looking for reviewers based in Bombay only.

If interested do write to us at bookwelove (at) gmail (dot) com

Priyanka Chaturvedi

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Penguin Classics Library

Browse through your favourite classic,
discuss it with a friend over a cup of coffee,
 join us for readings from the classics,
avail exciting offers and much more…

Penguin Books India
in collaboration with

is delighted to present the

Penguin Classics Library

from 15 January to 15 February 2011
across all Landmark Stores in India

In 2009 Penguin Books India had announced a special promotion to celebrate the marvelous Penguin Classics range of books. The promotion included an open-air library, exhibitions, talks, readings, exciting online activities (including a classics blog), competitions and quizzes, and a host of other activities.

The promotion commenced with the very successful and highly appreciated Penguin Classics Library in New Delhi which was followed by equally successful Libraries in Bangalore and Kolkata. The open library, a unique concept organized for the first time in India by a publisher, had on display the entire range of Penguin Classics and provided readers with a great ambience in which to spend time with their favourite classic and gave them an opportunity to browse, read and discuss classics over a cup of coffee.

We are now delighted to extend this Library in collaboration with Landmark across all seventeen Landmark stores in the country. For a list of the stores please visit

The month long promotion will take place from 15 January to 15 February 2011 and will  feature the entire range of Penguin Classics which will be available for sale. It will also include many exciting offers on select series and titles including buy 3 pay for 2, and many more.

The promotion will also feature readings and programmes in select cities.

The world famous Penguin Classics list offers an unrivalled range of more than 1200 books from around the world and across the centuries. Penguin is committed to making the widest range of the best books from around the world available to millions, in editions that are up to date, authoritative and readable. Constantly redefining the idea of what makes a ‘classic’, the list includes many of the best books ever written, of course, and many surprises. The list also includes a collection of Indian classics (Black, Modern and Puffin) published by Penguin India  such as the The RamayanaThe PancatantraThe ArthashastraThe Man-eater of Malgudi, the short stories of Premchand and Manto, and many more.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: The Sunset Club

Remember reading Khushwant Singh say that his latest The Sunset Club is his last book, I sincerely hope not!  Would really want him to keep writing his columns and authoring books till he reaches his century! The Sunset Club was particularly interesting to me since it helped me understand my own father’s ritual of going to the beach come rain or storm to be with his friends. I always wondered what they discuss every morning after their walks are done. How many new topics can one come up with everyday?  But this book helped me understand the perspective of such, dare I say, senior citizens club. Besides this and of course the trademark Khushwant- isms about sex, love, lust and women the book has nothing much going for it.

By the way, just loved the book cover designed by Ajanta Guhathakurta and the cover photo by Bhavi Mehta!

The story is that of three friends who meet every evening at Lodhi gardens on the Boorha Binch –Old Men’s Bench facing the Bada Gumbad-The Big Dome (His description of why Bada Gumbad attracts maximum crowd is most definitely the highlight of the book!).  The author says the reason for its popularity is because the dome, hold your breath, is an exact replica of a young woman’s bosom! Yes, that is Khushwant Singh for you! The three members are as different as they come, Pandit Preetam Sharma, Nawab Barkatullah Baig and Sardar Boota Singh. They have been meeting at the same place for over forty years and are now in their eighties. The group is called The Sunset Club and the book chronicles their take on everything from politics, to the Republic Day parade to the Babri Masjid riots, to Indian elections and of course women, love and sex.

The book follows a year in the lives of the three men starting from 26th January 2009 to 26th January, 2010. Along with their lives you also get a glimpse of the year that went by in India, as the country goes through the cycle of seasons, the tumult of general elections, violence, natural disaster and corruption in high places.

The book is sometimes poignant, at places coarse and most of the times witty. The author has very interestingly used Urdu poetry to describe the situation and state of mind of the three members.

The book kept me involved but not hooked.

Though the author does not need an introduction but here goes,

About the Author:

Khushwant Singh is India’s best known writer and columnist. He has been founder-editor of Yojana, and editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and The Hindustan Times. He is the author of classics such as Train to Pakistan, I shall not hear the Nightingale, Delhi, The Company of Women, and Burial at Sea. His non-fiction includes the classic two volume A History of the Sikhs; a number of translations and works on Sikh religion and culture, Delhi, nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry. His autobiography, Truth, Love and a little Malice, was published by Penguin books in 2002. Absolute Khushwant:  The Low-down on Life, Death and Most Things In-between was published in 2010.

Khushwant Singh was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974, but returned the decoration in 1984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Tonight, This Savage Rite

One approaches this book with reverence.

Firstly, it’s from the high priestess Kamala Das, and the devilish genuis Pritish Nandy himself. Secondly, it’s a revisitation of an old book, packaged this time in contemporary design, with Manu Parekh providing abstract accompaniments. And lastly, it’s about love – and what could be more bittersweet than love, revisited.

Love poetry, like great literature, is timeless. The pain, the ecstasy, the dread, the tremble, the anticipation, the bliss, are all feelings which have no boundaries of time or place. But what is different about love in Kamala Das’ world is its despair and its cynicism. Either she has got a lot, or too little. And love, for her, is invariably stolen, and never obtained; got, but very soon, lost. As she asks in “The Stone Age” - “Ask me why life is short and love is /Shorter still, ask me what is bliss and what its price.”

Time and again, she comes as being diminished in life and love (“Cowering/ Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and/ Became a dwarf.”), but is almost as much a culprit of faithlessness (“As the convict studies/ His prison’s geography/ I study the trappings / Of your body, dear love/ For I must someday find/ An escape from its snare”) as much as she searches for faith in love.

The leitmotif of love is the physicality and the illicitness of love in Kamala’s world. As she says “Our hands were timid in love-play, moving/ On the other’s skin, they knew they were but/ Humble caretakers, for a short while allowed/ To make their homes on another’s lot.” She knows she is forever “seeking (the) past in the future”.

She hurts inside, even as she gives pain (“... love’s battles are often strange,/ If the thrusts were mine, the wounds were also mine.”), until her sepulchral request not to have her bones and meat thrown away, but to let people tell by their smell “What life was worth/ On this earth/ What love was worth/ In the end.”.

Pritish Nandy, on the other hand, surrenders. He loves the only way it is possible: by giving in. He doesn’t resist, he doesn’t question. He harnesses Nature on his behalf – rain, the rivers, night – and seeks, and gets, and loses love.

Often – maybe, more often than not – there is lovemaking before love, as also lovemaking to revive love (“This passion alone can / resurrect our love.”)

Imbued in these verses is the sense of inevitable loss of love - and its loneliness. Alas, leaving is easy; forgetting, not (“Forgetting takes much too long: the secret swallows of / my dreams wing towards the morningstar as my / words rain over you, stroking you into silence.”).

Pritish paints love in metaphysical strokes. Unlike Kamala, who finds pain in her body, in her blood, in almost visceral grief, when she loses, Pritish turns to rain, flowers, the sea, to seek parallels. He is gentle in judgement, more introspective, and knows there is life beyond –often with the same person. In one of his most evocative poems he says:

“Goodbye is not always a great exit line. There

are simpler ways of saying you are wrong. The

sign on the window says you are lonely. The void

in my heart says you are gone. There is still

someplace unknown where we can drift and watch

the springtime grow. In silent praise of the love

we as strangers today shall recognize and know. “

In a world where nothing is certain, love, with all its uncertainties, is the only thing which can help us live. Both Kamala and Pritish know it, and live it, and write about it, in tender, often discomforting, candour. Accompanying these poems, Manu Parekh’s drawings are mysterious and often like grosteque smudges – but then, often, isn’t love also just that?

(This book is reviewed by Sunil Bhandari.Sunil is a finance man in a corporate job, who converts balance sheets into pieces of poetic fancies! Sunil loves films, writes to live, lives to write.He blogs at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Mansuri, Macabre

Recently read and enjoyed Sudhir Thapliyal’s Mansuri Macabre. It is a book that will keep the reader captivated with its story and the characters. 

There are two parallel stories; one is that of two Sikh girls living in a conservative, simple household in Mansuri assisting their father in running their garment shop.  The second is that of three unknown men who happen to meet in Calcutta trying to escape their past. They come together and decide to disappear into the convenient world of godmen. Soon enough one of them turns into a sadhu after reaching Allahabad, while the other two end up becoming his lieutenants. This so called godman ends up gaining a lot of support and his clout increases. Of course the godman also ends up attracting the scums of the earth who are desperate to attain nirvana and others who want to join as disciples in order to make money.

But their journey doesn’t just stop at Allahabad. After a whirlwind tour of the country dispensing their pearls of wisdom to the richest in the land, and opening a grand money laundering ashram, it is Mansuri that attracts their attention.

The two stories merge when the godman and his team set up an ashram camp in Mansuri and the godman’s illegitimate homosexual son is married off to one of the Sikh daughters living there. How the girl is exploited and tortured right to her escape and her fight back forms the crux of the story.  It becomes murkier when the two sisters end up getting killed and the story moves on to become a whodunit.

The story is a satire on the religious duplicity prevalent in India. How unknown men with a dubious past end up becoming well known god men shows the kind of blind faith and beliefs that thousands in India follow.  The author manages to brilliantly capture the sleepy and laidback environment of a hill station.

A very fascinating and wonderful read. 

About the Author

Sudhir Thapliyal was born and schooled in Mussoorie to where he has returned. A graduate of the University of Allahabad, he did his MBA from IIM (Calcutta).

He was a senior journalist with The Statesmen and today is a freelance journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker. He was nominated for the Rhodes scholarship in 1967 and is a 1972 Fellow of the World Press Institute, St. Paul, Minn. (USA)

His published books include Hello!Mister Tee, renamed The Loves and Life of Mike Tarrance, War at Lambidhar and Crossing the Road.