November 25, 2012

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy

Yes, this review has taken me wayyyyyyy more than the stipulated time. I am sure, however, that every one who has read this book would understand that this is NOT a book to be hurried with! It is meant to be savoured and soaked in. So with due apologies, I think I am justified in having lived with the book for my own sweet time. The protagonists demanded that I did! The style and pace wanted me to engage myself in it! The author definitely wanted me to stroll over the words and take in with refreshing sight, those fantabulous illustrations!

I generally don't like reading about animals. I am not a pet crazy girl. I like pets but from a distance, having been brought up with the fear of animals and never had a pet myself. Over time, I have come to an extent where I will 'oww' and pet a dog or cat, but not to the level that I'd kiss them or let them lick me silly.

I had my apprehensions when I began reading this book as animal fiction has not enthralled me, with the sole exception of the Jungle Book. Where James Herriet failed, Nilanjana Roy easily had me floored! The style of writing is so engaging. 

The story is about a wild bunch of cats living in the Nizamuddin area of Old Delhi. Their lives, fears, interactions are all elaborated in a carefully careless manner, such that you get involved with them as if they were your own, but at the same time not find it tedious. Special credit must be given to Nilanjana Roy for the same. Not always can a writer tuck in as many details without making the reader feel it getting laborious!

Holding on to the feline charm, yet making it possible for us to relate to the motions and characteristics of being alive, Nilanjana sculpts the cat world of Beraal, Mara, Miao, Katar, Hulo, Southpaw and others with charm and control.

The outline is right there on the blurb and the story is a ‘google’ away! So I am not going to give away the story; hence, you may breathe and read on. What particularly charmed me were the absolutely detailed illustrations. They were stylish, quirky, part realistic, part abstract and mostly as much a fabric of the overall story as the words themselves. A perfect jugalbandhi of talent between Nilanjana Roy and Prabha Mallya.

The interaction between predator and prey, friendship amongst equals, trusting the unknown, bravery etc are beautifully and thankfully, non-preachily etched out through the many incidents in the book. 

I have always found cats strangely similar to humans in their behaviour. And hence, I have had an overall neutral and specifically affectionate reaction to cats. This book, however, will make you love cats, if you did not already. You will crave to have a furry thing to purr around you! Also you will wonder how you never noticed these things about the felines so far! Nilanjana pretty much infects you with her own obsession for the furred beings. 

Pick this book if you want to read a refreshing tale told in an absorbing manner, juxtaposed with imagery that would only go to make the tale that unfolds even more gripping than ever. But don’t hurry up your reading. Live with Mara, travel like a Sender through the book’s world when you are not reading it and yet are thinking about it, savour the nuanced descriptions of the climate changes, ponder over the societal demarcations in the animal world and astound over its similarities, enjoy the innocence as well as the ruthlessness of their lives and celebrate this book that is sure to demand a re-read from you.

It is one of those rare books, so singular, so unique and absolutely enjoyable that will always proudly hold its fort on your book shelf.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

November 10, 2012


and always so!
the perennial loop that strangles
the circle of mad dances
the breathlessness and the emptiness. 
that somewhere
the jinx gets broken
teach me the spell
to unhex existence

November 09, 2012

At the end of the day

if I can hold on to truth in music
if I could have taken one breath of absolute freshness
if I had managed to smile or laugh for a moment with abandon
if I have done one thing that made me respect myself

I promise you, the powers around, I probably wont not ask for anything more!

November 04, 2012


It was almost midnight when I heard the song. Unavoidable circumstances denied me an earlier delight of watching the show in its first telecast. I had been angry that I couldn’t watch it, after planning for so long, making sure we are subscribed to MTv, reminding everyone in the family that I rule the TV from 8pm.

However, it was for the better. As rain drops toned down to fall softly outside, after a sudden downpour, with just the silence of sleep enhanced by the absence of electronic noises for company, I first heard ‘Nenjukulle’.

There are certain memories that cling to my first-hears/best-hears of some Rahman numbers. Like Taal will always be rain, smell of wet earth, chikki, hills of Lonavla, hide and seek with light through some twenty odd tunnels, my green Walkman and a series of AA batteries.

Munbe Va is clock strikes midnight, Naresh Iyer crooning “Naan naanai”, housing development drawing sprawled on A2 sheets on my wooden drafting board, the radio, a T-scale suspended mid draft and a Steadtler 0.1 mm lying forgotten.

Nenjukulle will always be rain, silence, a young happy girl singing and ARR playing the accordion- lost in some inspiring microcosm of the universe he alone has access to.

I loved everything about the song- the lovely lyrics, the evocative music and Shakthi’s simple soulful rendition. Here was as song, finally, after Saanwariya from Swades, where the emotions of a woman in love with a man are so artfully described.

And as always, the   ARR-Mani-Vairamuthu combination makes me a synesthetic wreck! I can feel the cool breeze in this song and a mixed smell of wet earth, sea, mallipoo and a non-repulsive smell of sweat.  Earthy tones- predominantly brown, in contrast with the cool blue of the water- saturated.

I see furtive glances, long shots of the ocean.- a very 'Deivam thanda poove' kind of visuals for this song. Also maybe a little of Raavan's detail in the foreground(like a golusu-clad feet shuffling away)-shift focus-actor in the background kind of imagery!

And I can also sense that maybe the violin strains will be part of the bgm for a major part of the film. Or well, here’s hoping!

It has been a really long time since a song evoked such a strong deep reaction in me. The sincerity, simplicity and straightforwardness of Rahman’s composition hits you like a sure shot arrow in this song. And you are reaffirmed and want to believe in many of the finer, more honest emotions that the world at large is losing out on.

I have always been biased towards Rahman’s music and seek refuge in many of his songs whenever I feel my faith shattered or shaken. Over the years, I have probably worn out the songs on so many hears and pretty much know how they all pan out- voice, instrument, nuances wise- although many a time, a sudden little curl of tune surprises me from between a piece. I was pretty desperate for a new song to come cradle me. I needed that comfort, so I can abandon myself in a song, in these confusing times.

Thank god, Nenjukulle arrived!

© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall