Monthly Archives: October 2016

INFERNO- The Journey Through Hell

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If you are a fan of Classics but not strong enough to ignore the new arrivals altogether, I think it is wise to set some ground rules so that your mind is spared the homicidal battles within. After finishing a new favorite, go back to an old one. Alternate your precious time equally between the two. Life is too short to miss out on all the great works that have been produced. You may thank me later nerds 😉

A week back, with the release of the movie starring Tom Hanks and Irrfan Khan I was taken aback by the fact that I had not read the book Inferno by Dan Brown. Needless to say that in readers community it is considered a deplorable crime to watch the movie first, keeping the book to be attended later. But then mixed feelings of regret and relief donned on me when I found Dante’s Inferno in the book shelf at home. Without any further adieu I hopped on the bed with a mug of hot chocolate and wrapped in my cozy blanket started devouring this epic work by Dante Alighieri written in the 14th Century. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighiery, ‘INFERNO’ – A verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum. If you are a lover of poetry, you can’t ignore a work of such rare perfection. It is a book of modest volume, but I suggest that you read it for as long as you can. Absorb each dialogue with sincere admiration and a hawk’s eye. That is where the fun lies. Devour the fine details with the best of your faculties.

The Divine Comedy is an epic poem that was presumably written in the period 1308-1320. While Dante was in exile he wrote three volumes of it, Inferno, Purgutario and Paradiso. Inferno is the narration of the journey that Dante undertakes down the hell. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, he fearlessly embarks through numerous circles of hell, 9 to be exact. Each circle represents a sin, and the damned souls are trapped there for eternity. The three beasts he encounters represent three kinds of sinners, the self-indulgent, the malicious and the violent. The circles or sins are of lust, anger, gluttony, avarice, violence, fraud, treachery, those who ignored the existence of Christ and those who confused others about the idea of Christ. As Dante passes each circle he meets people known to him as well as strangers. The dialogues they exchange are insightful I must say.  Each sin that has been described is exceptionally realistic and is explained to Dante either by Virgil or the sinners themselves.

The beauty of this book is that it is a dual language edition and comes with explanatory notes at the back. Don’t go on if you are not getting the plot. Read once, twice, thrice, as many times as you feel like. Take it slow and read with patience. If you feel like you are not just ready, drop it for a while. This is not another easy going novel you can take with you to read by the beach while your friends are howling around. It is the kind that you read in the silent confines of your room. Give it time and exclusive attention. Give it love, and it will reflect the same.

I’m screaming it loud and clear. VISUALIZE everything you read. Every single dialogue. That is one rule you have to strictly stick by.

Come, have a good look at hell.

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And yeah, don’t get all serious while reading it. I personally couldn’t help smirking every now and then. It is a blend of both horror and humor, so of course both are meant to be felt. There are times you will have a sinking feeling for yourself, but then you may have some fun imagining people you don’t like, damned to hell. Dante is brilliantly imaginative in devising ways for torturing his enemies. You may have your own opinions during the journey, which may make you question the perfection of Dante’s work, but it is absolutely fine. The uneasiness and restlessness that comes with it is absolutely worth it. This book is outrageously diplomatic, philosophical and political at the same time. Dante has sent to hell real people. Daring, eh? One thing that took me by surprise is finding his beloved teacher Brunetto Latini in hell, convicted of sodomy( canto XV ). Seems like God( as per Dante’s assumptions) wasn’t that open minded regarding sex during the 14th century. Homosexuality? Nu-uh.

Dante doesn’t cease to amaze the reader, despite the aforementioned scene or a couple others that may make us raise brows. But come on, it was written 7 centuries back. We can be sensible enough to ignore the difference in mindsets and enjoy the book as a literary blessing for once, right?

In case it makes you feel any better, in canto XX the fortune tellers were damned(*chuckles* which serves them so damn right) and were condemned to walk with their heads turned backwards, restricting them from knowing what lies ahead, since this is precisely what they had done all their life, creating fear of the unknown in the minds of people.

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It is the kind of book that gives you a bad hangover. The kind that nerds would kill to experience. Can’t wait to lay my hands on the other two volumes. Take my word for it folks, at one point in life you will be ready for this book. And when you are, it will be one hell of a read.

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The Da Vinci Code

Today I’m going to share a secret to attain happiness and a certain sense of satisfaction for the fellow insatiable readers. If you are addicted to books and no matter how many new ones you taste the craving doesn’t go away, try something old. Something that once swept you off your feet. Constantly  torn between whether to watch cartoons or read something substantial, I somehow ended up doing the prior for days on end. I’ve gone through writers block countless times but never knew readers block could happen too. Just like visiting old friends gives you solace, rereading books you once admired brings you unmatchable warmth and comfort.

So, now that I’ve developed a taste for thrillers I decided to revisit my old friend ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown. It’s been years since I read it and watched the movie. It is a good thing that I didn’t have a blog then, for I’ll get to review it now. Most of you must be aware of the controversies that have followed the publication of this work, and since I respect the opinion of other readers, I expect the same in return. Don’t get carried away by your religious beliefs and devotion whatsoever. Remember that it is only a work of fiction and is expected to be read with an open mind.

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picture credits- wikipedia

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picture credits- goodreads.com

While many people have rebuked it saying that it poses a threat to Christianity, I believe that it is nothing but a gripping work of fiction. And the credit goes to the author for artistically blurring the line between fiction and reality. Being in the best sellers list for so long and also having a blockbuster movie made after it, I feel that the open minded people outnumber the conservative mass who are blinded towards anything but religion.

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picture credits- snagfilms.com

If you choose to read it, you’ll probably agree to the fact that it is a compelling page turner. I won’t deny that I found it a bit cheesy at times, but apart from a few turn-offs it is a good read. It is not a complex work that would set your intellectual faculties on test, but a simple enough story of adventure which you can effortlessly breeze past without being disappointed. One can recommend it to any age group, that is perhaps the beauty of it.

I’m glad that I had picked it up when I was a teen and this one being the first I read of its kind I instantly fell in love with it. The story is fast paced and can be summarized as a race between two parties( good and the evil) to reach a secret that has been guarded by a sacred society since ancient times. The protagonists are Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Robert is a Harvard professor who is on a visit to Paris on business, and is urgently summoned for the investigation of the mysterious murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre at the middle of a night. Sophie Neveu is a cryptologist who comes to the rescue and together they solve bizarre riddles while fleeing from the police as well as the other party. Knowing that all the guardians of a secret society have been mysteriously murdered, will they be able to retrieve the explosive truth generations have protected and passed on? Or will the truth be lost forever?

Go on. Find out.

Digital Fortress

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Looking for an intellectual work of fiction to titillate your brain? Well, here is the answer. Reading this gripping thriller felt so much like watching a blockbuster movie. It is a page turner and will keep you glued to it until you find out what Mr. Brown has decided to be the ultimate fate of the story. Needless to speak of the matchless ability of the author to send your heart racing and quickening your pulses he has lived up to the sky high expectations as of me and millions of other readers. The Da Vinci Code made me fall in love with his work and each of those which follow make me admire him more and more.
I think he deserves the title of Master of intellectual thrillers. If you are bored of reading feel-good fiction (most of whose endings are predictable) I’ll suggest you go get a taste of thrillers. Just like a lioness becomes an unstoppable predator after blood touches her tongue, I bet you can’t stop after getting a taste of The Da Vinci Code or the other intriguing works of the author.
It’s probably going to drive me crazy if I don’t add spoilers and comment on the characters. Still I leave the story for you to uncover. Umm, there is no harm in giving a summary right? No spoilers ahead. Just an outline, I promise.
The book sounds promising for cryptography enthusiasts. Not that it is a manual of tricks for solving crypto problems, it is the story of an undefeatable and matchless code-breaking machine called the TRANSLTR. Resting in the den of National Security Agency, the beast that had the impression of being invincible, is caught dead by a mysterious code.
I love the stories where a woman is the hero. Susan Fletcher is no less than a hero for fighting to save her country, herself and the love of her life all at the same time. Constrained by time, Miss Fletcher and her love David race against the odds, miles apart from each other for serving to the bigger purpose of national security. Will they accomplish the mission? Will they ever get to see each other again? In the chaos of power, lies, intelligence and rivalry, will love survive? Go on. Find out 😉 

And yeah, I’m finally trying my hand at photography. Don’t hesitate to drop feedback and suggestions if any.

And The Mountains Echoed

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If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards. 

I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
SPOILERS AHEAD:
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.

Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten  the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.

“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”



The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.

This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.