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A Love Life so Painful
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Those enchanted four and half years
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Love You Forever : Only In That Way
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I Too Had A Love Story..
Ladies Coupé
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Left from Dhakeshwari
I loved a Street woman
Chanakya's Chant
Dreams in Prussian Blue

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Review: Second Go by Radhika Sachdev

Title: Second Go (First-hand account of a liver transplant recipient's journey in India)

Author: Radhika Sachdev

Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing 

Genre: Non-Fiction

Date:  2018

Price: INR 199

Pages: 296

Snapshot:  As the sub-title of the book says, this is the first hand account of a liver transplant patient in India. 

The Review: Radhika Sachdev, a former journalist with leading newspapers such as Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian express, etc. pens her journey as a patient suffering from liver tumor with secondary tumors in the breasts to needing a liver transplant and later successfully getting one. She begins with what led her to the disease and how was her life in general before. She focuses on personal life and her bonds with her family. After all it is family that comes in support during such situations and its family that you fear about the most in such circumstances. She delves deeper into her relationship with her daughter Aarzoo, the experience with her adoption and the slowly developing bond between them. She has responsibilities of an old father too and she has to live. But when the disease is huge, mere responsibilities do not make you survive and overcome it, it is bits of everything and she describes these factors as well.

The reader is acquainted with microscopic details of the options available for liver transplant, how to register for one, the pre-tests and other medical pre-requisites needed to register oneself as a recipient. Did you know that you would get rejected if anything was wrong there and your chances of survival were compromised? The organ actually went to fit recipients. She also describes the government policies in place, ensuring this in India and other countries. Spain has the highest organ transplant rates, India is very low in comparison and this is mainly due to a huge gap in ratios of donor is to recipients. One reason affecting this which the author stresses upon is pledging to donate organs (something her entire family practices). 

The other major question is finance, for how would you manage without money? She gives all the details of how she managed her funds and the hacks around the pricing of drugs etc. in the post-surgery period. She also has compiled a list of trusts which donate for the cause. But taken all of this together, her situation wasn’t all sorted till her and her family find strength in Buddhism. She has mentioned her journey from being a skeptic to finding Soka Gakkai its role in retaining their motivation.

Overall, it is a holistic journey of the writer from managing her finance, to her family life and their support and running her business all throughout her business. The best part about the book was in no part was it melancholic as to “why me?” but truly pragmatic and balanced. She actually wrote all of this while going through it so that it could one day help someone else. Now that is some foresight and dedication into it, isn’t it? The glossary at the end of the book with micro-details on finance, diet, etc. is extremely helpful.

What I disliked about the book was the whatsapp message text part and that might have been done in a very upfront manner for people to relate to the content but the intricacies of reading a chat conversation is something rarely interesting to a reader. Important conversations in first person as they happened would be a better idea. The other part was her sisters chapter on the situation and the placing it at the end of the story, seemed like a disruption in the flow.

This book will be a helpful read if you or a loved one is going through liver transplant. It will get you acquainted with a lot of facts that would have been alien for you so far but critical later on. It also serves as an eye-opening motivator for the reader to pledge to donate organs with accurate statistics!

RC Rating: 3/5.

About the Author: Radhika Sachdev is an independent journalist who has held senior editorial positions with leading news banners – the Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Financial World and The Pioneer. Presently, she runs her own advertising outfit, Write Solutions.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Author Interview : VT Rakesh

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We recently did a review of Vadassery Thaiparambil Rakesh's latest book Satyameva Jayate( The plot was like living the Rafale deal. This got me interested in knowing more about the man behind the plot. Here is the conversation that took place:

Q. Describe your relationship with writing and how has it evolved over the years?

A: Like many others I also started as a reader. Surprisingly I started with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the patriarch, a tough book to digest, but the lines were captivating. Subsequent reading of lesser writers and easy to read books triggered a thought in me that some of these books could have been written in a better manner. Eventually it happened that I thought of writing a book myself, the way I think a book needs to be.

Initially I fell in the web of writing to get published, but after my first book got published through after herculean efforts, I thought self-publishing is the best option, since the book remains to have your flavour in entirely. Hence my last three books were all self-published, and happily so.

Q. Are you a methodical writer?
A: I believe a fiction writer can never be methodical. As somebody said earlier, it is like driving a car in the night, you drive as you see with the headlights on. Taking the twists and turns as the road appears in front of you. You cannot plan the complete drive, you just start driving.

Q. Tell us a little about your current book “Satyameva Jayate”?
A: Defence and Space are two areas in which the west doesn’t want others to succeed, as it is their main cash cow. I have been observing numerous instances which pointed towards foul play, be it the infamous ISRO spy case, many accidents with the submarines, falling fighter aircrafts, artificial scams or planted public agitations. General public never gets to know about these games played out by vested interests, sometimes business and otherwise political. Ultimately the nation suffers and therefore the people.

This book is a humble effort towards bringing attention towards such forces who scuttle India’s progress. Unfortunately, such forces get lot of support from inside the country.

Q. How did this story, its characters take shape? Was it influenced by real life events?
A: It goes without saying that the story and the characters are imaginative. But to make it look realistic bits from our immediate surroundings are always taken. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to write a purely imaginative story. As I mentioned earlier, real life events prompted me to pen this story.

Q. How long was the writing, editing phase?
A: This book took unusually longer time when compared to my previous books. The reason being the technical subjects in the book. It needed a lot of study of the relevant subjects, visit to the sites to understand the nuances. Some experts were also contacted to take seminal views. The writing took 18 months and editing 4-5 months. All together it took more than 2 years’ time for the book to fructify.

 Q.  Did you ever encounter a writer’s block and how did you get over it?

A: Yes, in this book to be more specific. I was stuck mid-way until I made a site visit as part of my work and suddenly an idea struck. Maybe one has to take a detour sometimes to break the writer’s block.

Q.  The readers like us felt deprived of a longer book where you put in a lot of character building, why did you write the story in a very concise format?

A: For a comparatively new writer like me, to get audience for a longer book is very difficult. I can create interest in people only if it’s a quick read. Nobody would want to invest time and money in a thick book from a new writer.

Q.  Apart from writing what do you do professionally and how do you manage both?

A: I do work as a marketing professional for one of India’s topmost companies. And I do travel a lot as part of my work. Travelling time is best utilized for writing.

Q.  Who are your favourite writers and book?

A: As I told earlier Marquez was the one I began with reading, but eventually went through all the genres be it by Orwell, Archer, Forsyth, Murakami, Stephen Hawkings, Dan Simmons, Alistair Maclean and a couple of excellent Indian authors like Shashi Tharoor, Jhumpa Lahiri and M. Mukundan.

Favourite books would be 1984, A Brief History of Time, Love in the Time of Cholera and Guns of Navarone, though not necessarily in that order.

Q.  Your favourite lines from a book?

A: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more than equal”, from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Q.  When met with despair how do you gear yourself up?

A: I do take up studies. Recently I had completed a course in Industrial law from NLSIU, Bengaluru. One I complete a course; it creates enough active grey cells to take up writing a new book. Right now I have taken up a research so that it keeps me busy for a couple of years, if not more.

Q.  A message for your readers…
A: Life is too short, hence don’t waste time. Take up a creative hobby, contribute to society and find happiness in smaller and mundane things.