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Lockdown diaries: Feeling bored? Read these classic books that shaped our childhood

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With every passing day, the numbers of COVID-19 cases have been increasing like anything. Seeing the situation, the government has hinted towards the fourth lockdown after May 17th with a new avatar. However, we have been confined to our homes since the first lockdown, that was called in March and this has made us feel bored as we have literally tried our hands on everything. But, there are still many things that you haven’t tried yet. And we’re pretty sure about it. One such activity is taking a trip down memory lane and doing the things we loved doing when we were kids like reading old classics. So, why not revisit some memorable kids’ classics that made our childhood awesome?

From Harry Potter to Malgudi Days, here are some of the best classics that can help you revive the old memories:

The Blue Umbrella

If you are a book lover, we are sure, you have grown up reading short stories and novels by Ruskin Bond. One of the most famous among all his books is ‘The Blue Umbrella’. While this lockdown has imposed restrictions on us, why not travel to fascinating places with some important life lessons.

Tenali Raman

One thing is sure that stories are one of the best ways to teach children life lessons. It’s not just books but also storytellers and their stories that have been passed on through oral tradition that add value to our kids’ lives. One such storyteller is Tenali Ramakrishna, whose priceless stories are still fresh in our minds.

Malgudi Days

Malgudi Days by RK RK Narayan is all packed with some important life lessons. The collection of short stories taught us how life can be satisfying.

The Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter always managed to make his position at the top of the list. The adventures of Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger left us all enchanted and somewhere, we all wanted to be a part of his story. Reading about Harry and his friends is like unfolding your childhood memories in slow motion.

The Hardy Boys

The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon takes us to the adventurous ride of teenage detectives Frank and Joe Hardy.

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Books & Authors

Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020: Sabarna Roy’s Latest Book Explains Mankind’s unconscious mind

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Is it that the dead Freud lives in every biological man alive?

Sabarna Roy’s latest intellectual venture Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 makes a bold attempt to find an answer to this very uneasy note of interrogation. This book certainly is one of the boldest attempts to simplify the psychoanalysis that still plays its role in today’s industrial society.

In fact, this is the question that had been tormenting some extraordinary human minds including Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Nabokov and Gustav Flaubert. The result, of course, was creation of immortal fictional characters like Ana Karenina, Madam Bovary and Lolita’s obsessive lover Humbert Humbert.

Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 may one day find itself as one of the best modern work on psychoanalysis. In the recent times, no author like Sabarna Roy has made bold attempts to dissect the unconscious mind or the split personality of human mind.

This, perhaps, is the best work of modern times in which we find the how people suffer from the syndrome of unconscious mind that attracts them towards darker aspects of human life.

Such chapters like A Letter to a Step-daughterA Letter to Suranjana and Nocturnal Conversation between a Step-father and Step-daughter over desserts and coffee really carry our train of thoughts not only about man-woman relationship but also gives you glimpses of the dark comedies taking place in our industrial society every day, every moment.

To understand this particular work of Sabarna Roy, let us begin with Part-A of the book titled A Letter to a Step-daughter. The very title evokes massive curiosity among the readers. The stepdaughter of the father Babazula is Tulip. 

Here, the step-father Babuzula writes to step-daughter Tulip among other things of “Dark Side of the Mind” and the Idea of Duality. The step-father’s love for his step-daughter Tulip finds its supreme expression in a particular paragraph which is very touching.

This is: “I am your step-father, but at some level I do think, I am your father, because I would like to believe your creative-self would not have bloomed the way it has, had I not been a part of your growing up years. Now that you are grown-up and a creative woman, I seek validation of my art from you.”

The Part-B of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 is A Letter to Suranjana. In it, Sabarna Roy makes an honest attempt to simplify the scientific distinction between pedophiles and child molesters in the light of Vladimir Nabokov’s most controversial novel Lolita in which Humbert shows a split personality as far as his mad infatuation for the character Dolores Haze, a girl of 14, is concerned.

The most intellectual observation that Sabarna Roy makes is that Humbert, the Dolores-lover, may be a split personality but he is capable of feeling guilt thus trying to bring to light the fact that not all pedophiles are conscience-less.

This chapter, a letter to Suranjana with whom the step-father had a “wonderful session” on “Dark Side of the Mind”, rakes up the old controversy about pedophile Humbert. The author’s exoneration of Humbert as a pedophile and not an absolute child molester, of course, opens up a new vista for literary critics.

In Part-C of this book, we find a very thought provoking “Nocturnal Conversation between a Step-father and Step-daughter over desserts and coffee”.

In this intellectual offering, Sabarna Roy tries to say, “In life, there are certain things that are within our control, and a lot many things that are beyond our control. The aggregate of determinate and indeterminate factors makes life indeterminate. Uncertainty is closely associated with indeterminateness as indeterminate problems are likely to have multiple solutions.”

In it, Babazula, the step-father of Tulip, sides with Anna Karenina, the character of the novel of Leo Tolstoy by the same name. Apparently, he again rakes up an intellectual storm and perhaps, inviting critical assessments from literary figures.

Sabarna Roy puts forth a very valuable suggestion: When Anna Karenina was written, the influence of genes on man’s actions was not well understood. This is a very strong intellectual suggestion based on science. It deals with split personality syndrome with which, perhaps, Anna Karenina suffered.

To substantiate his argument, Sabarna Roy gives reference to Nikhilesh, the main character of Rabindranath Tagore’s book Ghare Baire. Nikhilesh too was split in his thoughts that results in a tragedy.

To corroborate his standpoint, Sabarna Roy gives scientific reasons. It runs like this: “Classical physics and how we would think in the years to come would change forever when light was first considered to be wave-particle; gravity a field and not force.”

At the concluding chapter of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, we find the beautiful Winter Poems 2020 which is a poem cycle of 21 very sharp and incisive poems. It is all about manifold aspects of human life and vivid confrontation between the poet and his alter-ego.

An engineer by profession, Sabarna Roy is the author of five best selling books. They are: Pentacles, Frosted Glass, Abyss, Winter Poems and Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 Time Frozen in Myriad Thoughts.

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Books & Authors

Potpourri by Urvashi Tandon – a rare pearl from the ever drying ocean of children literature

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Children literature which, once upon a time, was one of the most explored genre in India had taken the backseat in the last few decades. It does not feel good to see the way the number of quality books had dropped in this category over the years. Thankfully, author Urvashi Tandon had decided to put an end to this draught by penning this rare gem named ‘Potpourri’ which is a pearl from the ever drying ocean of children literature.

Talking about the book, the first thing which is going to appeal to the intended target reader group of this book is the very attractive cover. The cover is perfectly suitable to the young minds. The pictures on the cover creates an immediate sense of attraction.

Once, the readers start reading the book, it is the content that keeps the minds glued to it. There are a total of ten short stories in the book. Instead of designing the stories with a preachy flavour, the author had decided to give the stories realistic wraps. The beauty of the entire book is in the underlying messages the stories convey. The modus operandi followed to articulate the messages is what amazes the readers the most.

The choice of content makes the stories even better. The story-lines range from ‘creating an impact on the environment’ to ‘steps towards a better society’. These are areas where the young citizens can start creating tiny impacts starting from a very tender age.

Also, the success of a children book lies on the fact how well the adults are receiving the book. That’s where this particular book clicks so well. This is one book which is going to be liked by young and adult readers alike.

A big chunk of the reason behind the lovely construction of the book also connects back to the background the author Urvashi Tandon comes from. She is a professor of Anaesthesiology, who is trained in Paediatric Anaesthesia. It is this connect which prompted her to write for children. The fact that she is also an energy healer, helped her to bring the desired degree of positivity in each story of the book.

Overall, this is one of the best engaging gifts you can present your kid during the ongoing lockdown phase.

Buy “Potpourri: Stories For Children” From Amazon For Just Rs.149

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Books & Authors

‘Afsaane’ by Ameya Bondre brings to the table, stories the modern reader always wanted to read

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True to the title, the book ‘Afsaane’ is a collection of eleven short stories written by the very promising début author, Ameya Bondre. The author brings to the readers, a series of contemporary stories from different walks of life. The author himself wore different hats throughout his professional life from being a physician to a public health researcher, public speaker, and now, a fiction writer! It seems as if these hats helped him turn different pages of life to string a bunch of stories, which cover diverse subjects like the tensed adoption of a child, a couple ‘finding’ themselves in a marriage, getting over bereavement, a reckless infidelity sowing the seeds of new-found love, and an awkward reunion of a long-lost pair. Perhaps, Afsaane can be best described as a collection of the ‘supporting actors’ of our society. In each chapter of the book, Ameya skilfully puts these supporting actors at the centre of a plot, and circles a story around them! Most of the readers love such stories, but building them as simply as he has, is a tall order. And, that’s where Ameya succeeds as an author and story-teller. While all the stories are gripping, there are a few that stand out: ‘A Frantic Call’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Trapped’ will touch each reader irrespective of the demographic and reading taste, for the uniqueness of the plots, and fluency of the narration.

One more point that stands out throughout the collection is the novelty of metaphors. The metaphors are well thought and well described. Perhaps, this was never an easy thing for the author to do, keeping in mind the realistic settings of the stories.

Another feature that works wonders is the brilliance shown by the author in building a conversation. The authenticity of these conversations makes the stories in Afsaane, very suitable candidates for future silver screen adaptation!

The final point which deserves a mention and without which, this discussion will not be complete, is the cover of the book designed by Chinmayi Chavan. Though it is said that a book must not be judged by its cover, in this case, the cover is the first thing that attracts the psyche of the reader, and thanks to the brilliant content, the reader’s experience keeps getting better.

We recommend that you don’t waste your time thinking about reading this book. Simply go ahead and grab a copy. Get ready to be thoroughly entertained and engaged. We wish Ameya, the very best for his next work.  

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