Quiver of Thoughts

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How would you react if I told you that I am going to review a book by Javed Akhtar? Yes, the same Javed Akhtar who has written scripts for more than a hundred Bollywood movies, who has composed some of the most lyrical songs you’ll ever come across in a Hindi movie, who has penned numerous collections of poetry. Yes, the same Javed Akhtar who has participated in dozens of national and international poetry reading events where he has read poems written by Kaifi Azmi, a world renowned name in Urdu poetry and his mentor and father in-law, and yet, he is the same Javed Akhtar who has been accused of writing filth like Dard-e-Disco. These extreme sides of Akhtar’s writings forced me to pick up one of his books of poetry to look deeper into what one can say, his real thoughts. “Tarkash” or “Quiver”, as it is called in its translated version, was published almost 20 years ago, in 1995, but no word or thought expressed in this collection of fifty poems has become outdated.

“Tarkash” is a piece of art which takes years of patience to perfect. From struggle in Bombay for a livelihood to marital problems, from the riots in the filmy city to the joy of watching his kids growing, every emotion which the poet went through during the writing period, is explored in the most poetic way.

The book begins with a self-written note where Akhtar tells his readers about the happy and sad moments which contributed in making him what he is. Poems like Ek Mohre Ka Safar (The Journey of a Pawn), Bhookh (Hunger), Mother Teresa and Subah Ki Gori (Morning’s Maiden) are the ones where Akhtar’s creativity is at best. Who would not like these lines from Ek Mohre Ka Safar:

Jab vo kam umr hi tha
usne ye jaan liya tha ki agar jeena hai
badi chaalaaki se jeena hoga
aankh ki aakhiri had tak hai bisaate-hasti
aur veh maamooli-sa ik mohra hai
ek ik khaana bahut sochke chalna hoga

which translates roughly to

When he was still quite young
He learnt that if you want to stay alive
You have to be cunning as you can.
The board extends as far as the eye can see,
And he is just an ordinary pawn.
He has to go from square to square, with utmost thought.

The book is basically a narration of Javed’s life. The poems dive into different phases of his childhood, the nostalgia he feels for the times gone by, the struggle he has faced and ultimately, his success. Each poem is different from the others in the collection, in structure and rhyme, rhythm and theme. Every poem is followed by a couplet which despite of being smaller than a poem, has almost the same depth, if not more.

Since Akhtar hails from an Urdu background, there are a lot of Urdu words weaved carefully and artistically in the mesh of Hindi, but this does not make the book inaccessible to people who don’t know Urdu. Every difficult word is explained at the margin of the page, just in line with the original text. Ghazals and couplets, which form a significant part of the book, will surely make a reader jump with happiness or bring a smile on his face or force him to clap for the poet’s economic choice of words. As an example, here is something which became a part of my memory, the moment I read it first:

Aaj ki is duniya mein jeene ka kareena samjho
Jo bhi milein pyaar se un logon ko zeena samjho

Which means

“The way to live in this wide world is very clear;
Count those who greet you with their love a useful stair!”

Life is unpredictable and it has its ups and downs. Many a poets before Akhtar have expressed these thoughts and many will continue to do so even after Akhtar is gone. The beauty of Akhtar’s writing lies in the subtle yet poignant way he has expressed the same age old thoughts through his poetry. This is one of the few books which has been the pride of my bookrack for years. From mesmerizing me to inspiring me to pushing me into the reality of things unsaid, this book has affected me in more ways than I care to remember.


Archit Aggarwal

पथ में शूल बहुत हैं

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एन.एस.एस बिट्स पिलानी द्वारा आयोजित जूनून, मानसिक एवं शारीरिक रूप से प्रभावित बच्चों के लिए एक खेल प्रतिस्पर्धा है जो हर वर्ष बिट्स पिलानी में आयोजित की जाती है| गत वर्ष की तरह इस वर्ष भी मुझे मौका मिला इन छात्रों के लिए एक कविता लिखने का| यह कविता दरअसल उस हर व्यक्ति के लिए है जो जीवन की परिस्थितियों से घबराकर एक कदम पीछे हटने की सोचता है और इस कविता की हर पंक्ति आपको हर कठिनाई का सामना करने के लिए प्रेरित करेगी|

उलझन, पीड़, उदासी, हो तो हो,
वीणा की धुन सब बासी, हो तो हो,
पर संग इनके उम्मीदों के फूल बहुत हैं,
मत कहना कि पथ में शूल बहुत हैं।
इस पथ की चुनौती को तू कर नमन,
मंज़िल की चाहत में झोंक दे अपना तन-मन,
ये युद्ध है और तू वीर है,
यह चीख रहा है धरती का कण-कण। 
यहाँ न छाँव है, न आराम है
और  रक्त, स्वेद, धूल बहुत है,
पर मत कहना कि पथ में शूल बहुत हैं।
कोई भी आशा सन्देश न देंगे ये तारे,
न बढ़ पायेगा तू हमेशा दूजों के सहारे,
बन खुद की लाठी, बन खुद ही तलवार तू,
चला-चल तू उस ओर, जहाँ तुझको शौर्य पुकारे। 
राहें हैं लम्बी और मुस्कानें कुछ कम हैं,
और स्वाधीनता की राह के उसूल बहुत हैं,
पर मत कहना कि पथ में शूल बहुत हैं। 
जीत पर हो जाए किसी का अधिकार जैसे,
बादलों से बरस रहा हो संसार का प्यार जैसे,
यहाँ सब हैं आज तेरी त्रुटि छिपाने,
मूरत बनाने वाला कोई शिल्पकार जैसे। 
अंधेरा, अत्याचार, दुत्कार है यहाँ लेकिन,
संग इनके यकीनन रसूल बहुत हैं,
मत कहना कि पथ में शूल बहुत हैं।।

शूल: thorns
स्वेद: sweat
शौर्य: gallantry
स्वाधीनता: independence
त्रुटि: fault
रसूल: messiah

-अर्चित अग्रवाल

Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson

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With Private India, Ashwin Sanghi teams up  with a UK based thrill writer James Patterson. This brings the famous Private series to India. A 450 pages long story, Private India keeps its readers engrossed. Printed in a big font, the book is divided into 116 chapters along with a prologue and an epilogue. No chapter stretches for more than 6-7 pages with a lot of them being just two pages long. This surely helps readers to stick to the book. Like most of the books in this genre, Private India also has a lot of characters. From mafias to sex workers, from politicians to pop star, it appears as if Sanghi covered almost every occupation he could think of.

Santosh Wagh is the lead character of the story. He is an exceptionally intuitive and genius investigator who works for the Indian branch of Private India, a detective agency which operates worldwide and is considered to be the best agency in this profession in India. Now murders take place to show how good these people are, at their job. Starting with Dr. Kanya Jaiyen, a Thai doctor, eight people are killed and what connects them is a yellow scarf which the killer uses as a weapon to strangle the victims. There are some props with every corpse, a DNA-less hair being common among all. They find fork, calender (with page turned to the month of July), a bucket of water and other random things which do not connect to each other in any way till Santosh finds out. The connections find their roots in the Hindu mythology and the nine forms of the Hindu Goddess, Durga. Eight murders take place before it dawns upon them the connection between the victims of the serial killer. They stop the ninth murder, after all it is one of their agents whose life is at risk.


Good things
As discussed earlier, the book is a page turner and it will make you read it till the end. Not many heavy and weird reasons are presented at any point. Although the number of characters in the story is too much, no character is alienated from the climax. Adding to it, an offstage character like Dr. Uwwano has been used and presented in the best possible manner. The main characters have disturbing pasts (nothing new there). Santosh has nightmares, Rupesh (police officer and Santosh’s friend) carries a feeling of revenge with him and so on. The writers explained every character’s past which start connecting towards the end.
A thriller looks great if it is expanded in both the direction- time and space. Private India does justice to this without any fault. The vastness of Mumbai has been explored creatively and strategically. Colaba, Taj Hotel, Haji Ali, Bandra suburbs, Chowpatty (that’s how it is spelt in the book), Andheri, Thane, Arthur Road Jail; every landmark is explained in its original form, unlike most of the books which focus only on poverty and filth.


Bad things
The pasts of the characters builds up a story but who wants to know how every member of the team got recruited in the agency? Most of the things don’t make any sense there and it all appears to be forced.
If you are an Indian and watch CID (a TV show), you know that most of the criminals are those who are given the least attention. This thing repeats here. However, Sanghi cunningly discussed the gender of criminal at a point, which takes away the doubt which builds in the reader’s mind. This would have been acceptable and highly praised if the reasoning behind everything was much better than sex change (I mean, seriously he couldn’t think of anything more logical?).
Santosh Wagh is often seen explaining things to his colleagues but the inclusion of the ‘Thugee cult’ is useless, because it doesn’t connect with the story.

If you are expecting some good and brilliant quotes and prose from this text, this is not for you however the book does tell you about the dons in Mumbai (who supposedly wear many gold chains and rings). It is a yes-yes for one time read but a no-no for revision. Simple language doesn’t allow anything to slip from the reader’s mind. Even though the climax could have been better, this story is suitable as a plot for an audio-video movie.

I give this book 3 points out of 5.


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

तुझको पुकारूँ कैसे?

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एकाकीपन के ज़ख्मों को संवारूँ कैसे,
ख़ौफ़, तम, शूल, खंजर,  इनको अब दुलारूँ कैसे?

हर गली के मोड़ पर शैतानों का बसेरा है,
सब के सब शैतान, मैं अकेला मारूँ कैसे?

ये शक्ल नहीं, यकीनन ही नकाब है,
बरसों में जो न उतरा, उसे अब उतारूँ कैसे?
दौलत, इज़्ज़त, परिवार, सब है लेकिन,
बिन मोहब्बत के ये उम्र गुज़ारूँ कैसे?
जो भी आया चुनौती लेकर, सबसे मात मैं खाता रहा
जो बचा हूँ अकेला तो, खुद ही खुद से हारूँ कैसे?
चारों तरफ बस शोर है, बस शोर है,
ऐ मौत, तुझे चाहूँ पुकारना तो पुकारूँ कैसे?
अर्चित अग्रवाल

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