A Mirrored Life by Rabisankar Bal
Author: Rabisankar Bal
Publisher: Random House Publications
Year: 2015
ISBN: 9788184006155
Rating: ★★½☆☆
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If you get irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?Rumi

These striking lines leave an indelible mark on the reader, of Rumi’s poetry and magnificent writing. So if Rumi’s works are impeccable, how can a book about him be far behind?

Rabishankar Bal’s A Mirrored Life is a fictionalised account of the famed Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta and his experiments with mysticism and finally, losing himself to ‘Maulana’ (Rumi). The book begins with Ibn Battuta talking about himself, his travels and what brings him to Konya, former home of the virtuoso Rumi. We see Rumi’s life through various stories told by the merchants, inn owners and traders of Konya, on whom Rumi’s poetry and teachings have left a longlasting impression. They infuse us with magic realism, as wishes come true and revenge is the order of the day.Rumi meets his companion in an aging dervish, Shaikh Shamsuddin, fondly called ‘Shams’. Rumi and Shams share a bond of soulmates and their camaraderie, intense friendship and interpersonal dynamic are truly inspiring.

What I Liked

The book is peppered with Rumi’s teachings, philosophies and poems. The setting of the story is mainly in Konya and surrounding provinces, as we see the life of Rumi and the dear ones surrounding him.

What Didn’t Work

While it imparts a literary value to the narrative, it can be a deterrent to the doughtiest of the readers if philosophy is not their strong point. Also, a few teachings may seem like an anachronism and need to be put into perspective by the reader. In addition to that, the book moves at a glacial pace as Rumi and Shams explore their hidden sides.

There is a certain niche of readers who will highly appreciate this book. There is another niche that may not care for it much. I myself lie on the fringe, and this book could be whatever you want it to be, a life-changing novella or a heavy incomprehensible book of philosphy. The perspective matters.

For more of this author, see our review of his previous work, Dozakhnama.

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Discontent and its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid

Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin Group
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143423997
Rating: ★★★★★
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Read it! Just take my word for it and read it!!

Discontent and its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London is a splendid collection of articles and essays by the best-selling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke, Mohsin Hamid.  Just like his other works, this book is engaging, insightful and it pushes you to think. The book is divided into three heads: Life, Arts and Politics.

The introduction of the book in itself is persuasive enough for me to give it a big thumbs up. The ideology, the writing, the examples and comparisons, all so fluidly presented, are enchanting! As the subtitle suggests (Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London), the stories and essays encompass the writer’s time in each of these places and how all of it came to feel like home. Being already acquainted with other writings of Mohsin Hamid and belonging to the unjustly portrayed Indian subcontinent made this experience much more personal and relatable. Mohsin’s writing style is fluid and full of insight; he looks at his surroundings in a way that’s never been done before. Reading this book is like making a friend. It urges us to bring out the feelings that are buried in the deep recesses of our being. Reading this book is like talking to a friend, hearing them pour their heart out. This book is about getting to know the writer better.

Although all of the pieces make an absolutely interesting read, some of my favorites are Art & other Pakistans (discovering the soul of the country in a whole new light), Pereira Transforms, Enduring love of the Second Person and Fear and Silence.

This book is writer Mohsin Hamid’s take on various subjects close to his heart – the influence art has on politics, how physical agility is important for flow of creativity (Get Fit with Haruki Murakami), how untrue popular media depiction of Pakistan is, and how home is much more than a place, it is a state of mind!

Do check out the other works of this writer, his work in fiction is sublime!

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Review: 9 Don’ts To Success by Abhinav Pandey

February 23, 2015
9 Don'ts To Success by Abhinav Pandey

Author: Abhinav Pandey
Publisher: Grapevine India Publishers Ltd.
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9789381841419
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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9 Don’ts To Success is a book that highlights 9 traits that other self-help books insist that people avoid if they have to succeed. These negative traits are linked to snippets dealing with people’s experiences.

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Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

February 20, 2015
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Author: Kimberly McCreight
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9789382277132
Rating: ★★★½☆
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I picked this book after I saw that it made it to the ‘Goodreads Choice of Mystery and Thriller’. But come on people, you can’t be this misleading! Definitely not one of the classy, mystery thrillers of recent times, this book still manages to keep you occupied till the end.

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Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

February 16, 2015
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9781846558245
Rating: ★★★★½
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This book will leave a significant imprint on matters of religion, race and languages. The author’s assertion on spirituality is debatable, but worth reading.

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Review: God is a Gamer

February 12, 2015
God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian

Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143421399
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
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Touted as the world’s first Bitcoin thriller, GIAG is a big letdown given the potentially promising platform it is set upon.

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Review: Half Love Half Arranged by Itisha Peerbhoy

February 10, 2015
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Author: Itisha Peerbhoy
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143423089
Rating: ★★½☆☆
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I had an attack of conscience when I flipped past the books I had read over the past few months and nary could an Indian name be found among them. So, in an attempt to be better informed about my cultural zeitgeist, I took one for the team (WILDCATS!)

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Review: Becoming a Mountain: Himalayan Journeys in Search of the Sacred and the Sublime

February 2, 2015
Becoming a Mountain

Author: Stephen Alter
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Year: 2015
ISBN: 978938306404
Rating: ★★★★☆
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A son of American missionaries, author of ‘Becoming a Mountain’ – Stephen Alter was born and brought up in India. Despite living all over the world, he calls Mussoorie – a small hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas, home.

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Review: Unlucky 13 by James Paterson & Maxine Paetro

January 30, 2015
Unlucky 13

Author: James Paterson & Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2015
ISBN: 9780099574279
Rating: ★★½☆☆
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In Unlucky 13 The Women’s Murder club convene again to solve the gruesome belly bomb killings while an old villain is set to take out her revenge!

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Jaipur Literature Festival – Day Five

January 27, 2015
JLF 2015

The three of us agreed that the crowd was only going to get crazier next year. Booking a bigger venue could be an appropriate solution. That gripe aside, I would like to thank the organisers for a truly fantastic and well-organised festival.A last suggestion, on the behalf of perennially broke students everywhere, is to make the food at the venue more affordable for all.

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