Golden handshake

The power of life is all around to see,
Each measure of life is full of glee
I travel,I travel for the realities
Though,I find sulks and squeals

Rivers turned barren
Villages lost grains in wagon
The corn sowed waits for years
The cry of the genuine reaches no ears

The stick across the shoulders
Work and home,women balance
Children carry bricks
While conscience of men pricks.

In the broad daylight,I dress like a man
To shield myself from the eyes that scan
The money I earn has lost its worth
The poem I pen has lost its mirth

The food I eat , is chemical colours
Tomorrow could I teach nature’s wonders
In sullen multitudes I hear the groans
In the “border”are hearts full of scorns

My nation embrace varied cultures
Today we fight like vultures
Pecking at live bodies
Making life,lifeless

The wind is blowing my candle fire
Life is all one day to tire
Somewhere would I make a mistake
If I have not strived for its full make

If God has given me a vision
I am on a mission
To gather the salt of those tears
Which knew the Nation in its fears.

Sareena Nafeesath


Goat days-Binyamin(trans:Joseph Koyipally)


   Goat Days


17 July 2012

by Benyamin (translated-Joseph Koyipally)


Winner of the Sahitya Academy Awards 2009, Aadujeevitham is the Malayalam original written by Benyamin , and   translated by Joseph Koyipally  ,touches  lives,dreams, migrancy and life’s yearning in the brief shades poignantly portrayed by the writer.
The novel opens with an anxious Najeeb and Hakeem yearning for a prison life ,even prison seems a safer place.For Najeeb when the situations back home  to build a firm foundation in terms of monetary growth seemed fruitless,like the thousand others he too moves out to make it big. He dreams of migrating to Arabia and own riches to make his Umma , Sumayya and Nabeel happy.Does his fervent desire turn true?
Landing in an airport in an alien land, Hakeem and Najeeb are carried away by an arbab. Not knowing whats in store,they only get seperated  and face a harsh life.With unwashed body and company of goats,he only lives for the present.Every attempt to escape seems futile.The harassment ,the loneliness,coming in terms with grim realities tends to narrate a tale of how unexpected life could turn out to .
The brilliant description of the Arab deserts ;the blistering rains ,the search for an oasis ,the Golden sunset and the different creatures that make or mar the desert have their own spaces which we can neither tread nor raze.The  heart wrenching story of hunger ,thirst ,human longing ,finely captured in the simplest of words make it a good read for all age-groups .
What astounded me the most The pristine goodness of Najeeb through all hardships ,the preseverance that the Almighty has wonderful plans is overwhelming .He prays for the safety of others and to be more merciful with others .I really wondered if Ibrahim Khadri was a a real life character .
“If the Almighty could sometimes travel in a luxury car”
then Ibrahim Khadri  and the fourth man who hits him flat in the plains of the desert
remains a puzzle!
The book would appeal to young ,old and has a universal appeal in terms of human longing ,loneliness,flicker of hope and an outstanding moral message that require no language or boundaries.The book influenced many a Malayalam film, the echoes and similarity  of which we find in  Gadhama Arabi kadha  and Pathayamari
Lost in Translation The effort by Joseph Koyipally is worth lauding for the translation credited this wonderful book at the international level.I really regret that I am not fortunate enough to have read the book in Malayalam for it might have lost its subtle charm in translation and titular relevance .
Rating  4/5 ,The rating would have been higher in Malayalam , I guess.
Conclusion The  desert teaches many lessons.The charm and warmth of people that adds meaning to life,the precious value of  water which is the elixir  of Life and the childhood dreams ,…is it worth giving it a second thought?
As I bring the book to a close ,there’s that hang out…The sands have blistered my feet,parched my throat and I gasp for breath.In this wonderful tale I really wonder how lucky we are with our dear ones and to feel the coolness of soothing water all around .

And the Mountains Echoed-Khalid Hosseinii

“If  you  had a wish , you  had  to  kneel  before  the  tree  and whisper it. And if the tree agreed to  grant it , it would shed exactly ten leaves on your head’

Image result for and the mountains echoed

As I complete reading And the Mountains Echoed, I sit beside my keyboard as if I were to make a confession.

Blessed I am that I chanced on this  book at tbs bookstore, Calicut, though I was there looking for another  purchase , the image of the  little boy and Girl smiling , with the mountains at the bachdrop was so captivating, that I couldn’t ignore the triple set of A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Seller.

The  central  theme , the Story of love … of  brother , Abdullah  who  would  go  to  any  extent  ,even  to  trade  his  shoes  for  a  feather  of  Peacock , to  make  his  sister , Pari  happy .Having  lost  their  mother  Abdullah  is  the  one who  cares  for  her ,though  he has  a step  mother.They  make  life-plans  that  they  will live  close  to each other, no  matter even a hundreds of  years  could  pass by .  Like  the  story  of  the div, the little  fairy  tale  gives  us  a miniature  picture  of  their  seperation.

Connected  around  their  lives ,  we  peek  into  the  lives  of  the  different  characters  .We have  characters  in  the  form  of  Nila Wahdati and  Madaline , their aspirations , their  careers , and  their  vague hazy  view of  life , of  making  it  big and  still there are the  others   Odelia  Varvaris  and  Pari ,  Abdullah’s daughter , caring  ,supporting , and  lives  like  a  canopy  to  brighten  the  lives  of  others.

The  story of  Wahdati  and  Nabi  is  equally  poignant with  years  rolling  by  in  a  silent  mansion where  one  cannot  even  sniff  the  return  of  somebody  awaited . The gender  inclinations , the  choices  of  Nabi  and  how  far  he  turns  instrumental  in  tracking  out  the  roots  for  Abdullah  and  Pari  is  simply  amazing. We find  fate  working  in  the   lives  of  Marcos and Thalima , though  not  connected  by  kin  or  blood ,

If “A  thing  of  beauty  is  a  joy  forever”  Thalima  turns  out  to  be  the  most  striking  , most  beautiful  being  who  splashes  traces  of   happiness  in   lives  reality ,  the  little  lessons  Marcos  learns

What I liked about the book , the  narrative  in  first  person  is  too good . I liked  the way , the story  of  each  character , though  spread  and  seperated  make  their  appearences  in  abrupt  and  unexpected  ways. The story  is  about  loneliness , isolation  , seperation , loss , fulfilling  responsibilities , the  choices one  makes  .

And  as  we  read  ,we  just  pause  to  think , So yeah….they  are here!

“All  my  life , I  have lived  like  an  aquarium  fish  in  the  safety  of  a  glass  tank , behind   a  barrier as  impenetrable  as  it  has  been  transperent .” echoes  deep  of  how  we  contain  ourselves to  the  unyielding  confines  of  the  existence  that  bonds  construct  around  us.

The  book  is  undoubtedly , like  the  magic  spell ; would  appeal  to  children , students  ,young  adults  and  through  all  age  groups .

I regret not  having  read  the  book  much  earlier ,  My  first  book  of  Khalid Hosseini  chains  me  to be  a life  long  disciple  of  this splendid writer,  even  a  fragment  of   whose  portrayal of  life  would  be an impossibility  to replicate and  a  distant    dream  for  many a writer. I think , the  Asian  connect  could  not  be ignored  because  each  word  goes  directly  into  my heart.

A born-writer that’s what I can say, though  I am not qualified  or an expert to  assess or  review  these  masterly  strokes , but  yes  a  4.5  / 5 grading . I  am indebted to Hosseini  for the  different  threads   of  life  that I see  in this  gem  of  a book.  Parents,  siblings,  spouse , friends , uncle …..all  drifting  and sometimes clinging so close to your  feet , the  realisation….  how  blessed  we  are, to  have  family , identity,  roots  They  say  today  the  world  is  shrinking,  everybody  getting  closer ,somewhere  the  family  connect  is  widening  and  Hossein’s  book  comes  as a jolt ,when  realisation  dawns  on  us.“Will our  loved  ones  always  remain  young , healthy  and close to us?”

If  one  were  to  search  for  the  village  Shadbagh, it’s only  an  imaginary  one ,one  which  none  can  track  on  the  map but  the  narrative  and  the  tale  , is  so  life  like  that  I felt  I was  living in  the  pages ,

Will they  ever  meet? As  I  leaf  through , tears  and  a jab  of  pain  fills  me . I  really  feel  the  loss  of  an  unknown  pain “But  time, it  is  like  charm ,You  never  have  as  much  as  you  think .” leaves  the  reader  in  a  trance  and  earn  for  what  is  not.

“The  Mountains  are  as  bigger  and  as   hidden  as  our   dreams…..If  we  could   surmount  ,  the  inner  space  becomes  as  infallibe  as  the  dream  itself …. Hosseini’s  mastercraft  leaves an  enchantment… If   magic  be  the  spell of  words , I  wish  I  travelled   the  pages   of  a  never  ending  tale”  

 Sareena  Nafeesath


Advantage India From Challenge to Opportunity-A.P.J.Abdul Kalaam &Srijan Pal Singh


Advantage India From Challenge to Opportunity is published by Harper Collins ,co-authored by  A.P.J.Abdul Kalaam, former president of India and Srijan Pal Singh ,a social entrepreuner. This is a promising book for the present generation with a carefully researched and Scientific angle to tap the vast potential of its diverse initiatives.Fondly called the missile man of India,Abdul Kalaam gives fresh meaning and hope to discover opportunities all the way.

The prologue questions the ambitious Make in India,a competitive work force,Digital India Connecting Villages,Data Analysis which addresses issues of corruption and the various departments  working  together for the Nation’s development.For Kalaam, even the small dhaba is a work station of great efficiency where a single person “takes pride in one’s duty’and this is the key to ethical professionalism . In eastern U.P,travelling Jaunpur district,he finds migrant workers using mobile money transfer ,which means without basic literacy,they have landed directly into digital literacy.

Is India’s political system inclusive?many questions are raised regarding the political field unevenly skewed in favour of the rich.A challenge to solve and achieve is the rich-poor divide,the Super rich billionaires in  India stands third, while 80% of population are Below poverty line  residing  in  villages  lost in the glare.

With fine examples of Agni model, Brahmos Way and the Coco-cola business model he speaks of pathways to National Productivity and the need to globally skill our youth to earn international wages .The human Resources with regard to Quality of School education,knowledge resource ,employabilty  and health are co-related.But the PISA evaluation of Student Assessment and lack of employability skills among engineering students  points at quality issues which are lacking in our education system.

This wonderful book had touched all areas of the Nation,the health standards,E-commerce,better voting reforms, clean Civil service,Corruption Water ,population,smart cities and Mission Mode governance

I liked the book ;Abdul kalaam  focuses on time-bound employable skill force and a revamp of university education.He believes that the school sylabus at high school and higher secondary should  allot 25%to skill development programmes. Kalaam makes a mention of the Piramal Fellowship,where we find  professionals work with school Principals and how their innovative ideas   improvise teaching of Math , thus bringing a whole transformation to the Principals who shape teachers and students.So his vision about starting an ITS (Indian Teaching Service)is totally captivating because he want it to be treated at par with  IAS&IPS .

I liked Kalaam speaking about the doubts of “working with integrity” among Civil service cadre and how one has to establish a brand of integrity of themselves so as to make a barrier of all negative and corrupt forces around them.I marvel that pertinent question he puts to the cadre “What I will be remembered for?”which is also a question each and every citizen should question himself….”What should I leave behind for my Nation,What should I leave behind for the world?”

Kalaam also touches on Black money and how a cashless society,IT based transcations could reduce Corruption

Opinion The common man’s perception of Politics  is far from satisfactory,So Kalaam envisions reforms in the electoral system which should have a firm foundation of unbreakable promises and infalible delivery.He also gives full freedom of Right to Reject  and also wants to embrace the Right to Recall where people can  indicate their choice for or against recall.

Book would appeal equally to students, Politicians,leaders, IIMs ,IITs,civil Services,teaching professionals, and all looking forward for the development of the nation

Rating Undoubtedly five stars

Conclusion The epilogue is simply amazing with an Allegory of pretty interesting characters ; Veera,the buffalo,Teja( UAV),an unknown flying Object and Thor,thorium present in the waters of Kerala.

Imagination has tremendous potential that’s what Kalaam sums up .Having met 21 million youth in a span of two decades ,he was able to soar the imagination and dreams of the youth with his “Wings of Fire” and in this book he gives his Message in the form of an eleven point oath on what the youth can do.

“I can do it,We can do it,India will, do it”……this mind affirmation is so strong that we are left dreaming of a world where one among three people  would be an Indian and how much we could contribute to the world.

“When inspired by great mission,it’s like a northern star guiding the ship”Truely his words have inspired us and would do for many years to come






A Strangeness in My mind,Orhan Pamhuk

Image result for a strangeness in my mind Penguin India

Having read,”Snow” a wonderful read by Orhan Pamuk,I chanced on A Strangeness in my mind in a silent corner of a Book Store.The title name borrowed from Wordsworth’s ,The Prelude,

“I had melancholic thoughts,a strangeness in my mind.”

This is the story of Mevlut ,son of Mustafa Aktas, a boza seller who arrives in Istanbul.As a teenage school boy,for Mevlut ,Istanbul is only a tiny dot in the map ,though later he  watches the myriad changes of the Old city changing to a new one.He sells boza with his father and also joins Atarturk boy’s school followed by a brief military service.When he is twenty five he returns to his village to elope with Rayiha.He had spent three years writing love letters to a girl,whom his eyes met at his cousin’s wedding.He believes its God ordained chance encounter. Unfortunately , Mevlut discovers that  he had eloped with  the girl’s sister.

Mevlut loves his wife,Rayiha .They try to live selling boza, rice with chickpeas  and new buisness ideas are born with Ferhat and Samiha, but the political picture jealousy ,doubts offers a different route.The coming together of Ferhat and Mevlut ,old childhood friends scripts a new dimension to the story.Mevlut feels Ferhat had changed a lot  from the days  they made money with “kismet” .In his lonely middle age there’s this strangeness in his mind.It’s kismet(fate) again playing the game and a puzzling question to Mevlut unto his last.

I liked it because Each character speaks in first person.The author makes us feel each character has his voice,his own  life and perspectives.For Pamhuk,each character is a story  He could get into the shoes of his women characters ,be it a  graceful Rayiha or  a strong Samiha Over the years, in Fathima and Fevziya we find a Turkey  which has more liberal views in quality education for women The story is also about poor migrants transforming Istanbul.

My Favourite Character ,undoubtedly Mevlut.The curious School boy ,his childish innocence,and a heart that never betrays.The simple life of a street vendor,elevated with his thoughtfulness, oscillating between unfulfilled dreams and aspiring future,yet with a pristine virtue where he tries to see the good side in everything.He loves and cherishes his graceful Rayiha and showers love on Fathima and Fevziya

What I did not like.                                           Mevlut’s gullible nature  ,his falling victim to situations, inability to fight back.But that is all what makes the story so special.

Suspense There’s nothing much of suspense,as one reads through the story we understand how things were designed.But leafing through the final pages,looks  like how fate had many things in store…which we could never guess

Emotions it evoked, The words of the holy man

“A man who has no intention to pray will never hear the call to prayer;we only hear what we want to hear ,and see what we want to see” has much significance in Mevlut’s life

Intentions come in two forms ,”That which our heart intends and that which our words intend”..The answer to this puzzle Mevlut discovers is,Kismet(fate)…the force that bridged the gap between what our heart intends and what our words intended.Is love something on first sight or something much much bigger.Does he find his answer,that is the real story

The book would equally appeal to late teens,young adult,adults and old alike.The memorable touch that Mevlut leaves behind endears us  to Istanbul.In a way the author’s homeland is looked with awe,the traditions ,the culture and we seem to share a connection with Istanbul

Grade points The heart mind connect is amazing.Whether it’s Rayiha’s intention that finally won or what Mevlut fantacized or what he actually lived.The final truth is an eye opener,leaving the reader choked.The best Valentine gift,I must say

9/10 for his patience and creating a  625 pages masterpiece over the changing landscape of fifty years of Istanbul….And the impact it has on the silent lives of people like you and me.