Book Review – From Another Land by Tanushree Ghosh

From Another Land

 

Book Details

Author: Tanushree Ghosh

Publication House: Readomania

Amazon purchase link:

https://www.amazon.in/Another-Land-Making-Home-Dreams/dp/9385854739

Review

Once in a while, there comes a book which compels you to read and re-read it because there is so much more to it than what is visible on paper.  “From An-other Land: Making home in the land of dreams” by author Tanushree Ghosh is one such book which made me ponder, wonder and surrender to peel its layers and read between the lines. The theme of the book is all the more relevant in today’s times post the 2016 US elections.

Book Blurb:

Given the chance, would you be ready to immigrate? A majority would probably answer ‘Yes’. Yet, immigrants are looked at with either contempt or segregation and rarely compassion, in their motherland and abroad. Post the 2016 US elections, the rhetoric is further reverberating. From cancellation of refugee protection, zero tolerance and undercurrent crackdown on H visas to racism, profiling and discrimination—the resurgence of nationalism is hitting the globalised population head-on. But what is immigration today? A question of life or death. A fleeing of persecution. A compulsion. Or a mere pursuance of privilege. And, what is USA today, especially for Indians? From An-Other Land is a reality check and an emotional guide for anyone who wants to understand modern-day immigration to USA.

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When my husband and I were in Australia on a long term IT project, he was keen to settle down there whereas I wanted to return to India. My kith and kin were quite surprised that I was blissfully letting go of an opportunity to live abroad. But, I always had only one thing to say – “Everything is great here but it does not feel like home.”

My elder brother is in the US with his family for many years now and they have all obtained their American citizenship as well. Though we have never spoken about this subject openly, but I am aware that they feel a sense of belonging there and are pretty much content with their lives in the American land. Hence, I do understand and relate to the essence of this wonderful book which is a collection of short stories told from the point of view of varied characters.

News Shuttle – A newspaper that provides a wholesome reading experience to children

News Shuttle

As a creative writing mentor, one concern most parents come up to me with is “My child does not read”. Honestly, when I probe further, I discover in most cases that either the child has not really been encouraged to read much during the formative years or has not been exposed to his/her choice of reading material/books. We live in times when kids cannot have a gadget free childhood. So, to get them to choose reading activity over indulging in alluring gadgets would require some effort and patience on the part of the parents as well as teachers. Reading has to be made fun for them and one of the ways adults can achieve this is by giving them the right things to read. By “right” things, I do not mean a set of standard list of books or magazines or newspapers but something that the child can connect to and take pleasure in.

Having worked with children closely for a while now, I strongly recommend that they subscribe to a children’s newspaper as this helps inculcate reading habits in them while keeping them abreast of the happenings in the world at the same time.  Once they get accustomed to reading the newspaper, they have something to look forward to on a regular basis. If you are on the lookout for an appropriate child’s newspaper which is the right balance of fun and awareness, “News Shuttle” would definitely be a great option for you to explore.

News Shuttle is a bi-monthly children’s newspaper meant for kids aged 6-14 years with the intent to engage kids with fun, safe and empowering news. I read a couple of their editions along with my students and we thoroughly enjoyed soaking ourselves in it. Not only did this enhance their general awareness but we also ended up having constructive discussions on the topics we read about.

Join the Angel XPress Foundation and give someone the gift of time

Time and again, I have mentioned in my blogs about how by giving back to the society, we actually end up giving much more to ourselves. It may be called social service but I see it as something we ought to do, because who else will? We don’t realize that what we spread around stays in our milieu and impacts us too. The issues plaguing our society are often viewed by us from a third-party perspective, as if we live in a bubble untouched and unfazed. The heartening news is that quite a few people do realize this and are going out of their way to do their bit for the betterment of the world. There are also those who want to contribute but are clueless about where to begin. Honestly, no step is small or big as it adds to the iterative process of bringing about a change, which one day becomes a revolution. I remember when I was volunteering with an NGO as a counselor during the rehabilitation process of human trafficking survivors, a staff member from the organization had lamented that there are many who are willing to donate money to them, but very few are able to give time which is something they are in desperate need of always.

Today, I am proud to share the story of a foundation which is growing from strength to strength each day to make a difference in the lives of our only hope – our future generation. Founded in Mumbai in 2012 by Anubha Sharma and Beenaa Advani, Angel Xpress Foundation (AXF) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated towards empowering underprivileged and slum dwelling children through education, mentoring, values and life skills lessons, and career guidance. Their vision is to create a balanced and compassionate society and what started as a small project with 18 children in 2012, today supports 1900 slum children at 17 locations across the city via a strong volunteer team of 500 members. They have inspired many from different walks of life to join them in their endeavour to address socio-economic inequities and generate awareness and a sense of empathy and responsibility in the citizens.

We Are Beautiful

Years back, when I was in the third year of my engineering degree course, I got introduced over the phone to a close friend’s roommate. We clicked instantly, or so it seemed to me then. Soon, we began to have lengthy conversations on our Nokia 3315 mobile handsets (don’t think any of the handsets today can beat the durability and robustness of that one).  Because mobile phone technology was a new invention at that point, we usually waited for the “Happy Hours” which began at 11 PM as otherwise incoming and outgoing SMS/call charges were high enough to create a hole in our modest pockets.

We were not in a relationship. Maybe I had a crush on him, but I cherished the friendship more than anything else and enjoyed our late night tête-à-tête. We decided to meet up one day at a renowned coffee shop in the city. We met. The atmosphere was warm but he was cold. I left after an hour, bewildered and disappointed. The calls stopped after that and when I tried to reach out a couple of times, I was told by his girlfriend – about whom he never told me earlier – that he was busy and would get back. That never happened. I got the message. Weeks later, I learnt from our mutual friend that he was put off by the acne breakout on my skin and could not continue to flirt with an ugly-looking girl. “But we were not flirting! What about the friendship?”- I protested in my head. “But I am not ugly just because of my acne”- I didn’t protest. I was not beautiful, I accepted. It did prick for a moment but I moved on. Life moved on. Having been blessed with a chilled out demeanour and the immense love of family and friends all my life, I never had self-esteem and confidence issues because of my looks. But, I never considered myself beautiful for the longest time.

Friends Forever – Short Story by Tvisha

// This heart-warming tale of friendship has been penned and submitted by 8-year-old Tvisha from Hyderabad who attends my creative writing classes //

It was a beautiful, bright and lazy day. 8-year-old Riddhi was wandering inside her home and just chilling out. Her mother was preparing Aloo Tikki in the kitchen which was her favourite dish. The aroma of the freshly prepared tikkis wafted through the entire apartment. Riddhi was hungry and rushed to the dining table to relish the tikkis in the company of her parents.

All of a sudden, Riddhi shrieked as she remembered that she had a “Show and Tell” activity planned in school that day. She mentioned it to her mother and they both realized that they had forgotten about it. Riddhi was tensed as she did not know what to do because she was totally unprepared. Her mother said that they should leave for school right away to make it on time for the activity and that they could think of something on the way.

The Curious Boy – A poem by Etash

// This quirky and offbeat poem has been penned and submitted by 8-year-old Etash from Hyderabad who attends my creative writing classes //

A boy saw a toy on the road,

It looked like a sword.

When he went nearer,

He found that it was actually a gaunt deer.

The sun was gone,

Suddenly on the road, the boy saw something like a bone.

He took it in his hand,

And realized that it was a wrist band.

Where have you been so far? – A poem by Rishika Bharodiya

//This beautiful poem with a haunting melancholy has been penned and submitted to us by Rishika Bharodiya who is a lovely 15-year-old girl from Mumbai//

Where have you been so far?

Look at us how grown up we are;

For no reason you have gone afar.

I wish the time could rewind to what we truly are;

But you have always been the one on my wishing star.

Book Review – The perils of being moderately famous

An excerpt:

The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous is a refreshing, breezy and compelling read. It is a heart-warming collection of personal essays from the various walks of life of the author. I have often wondered about how it must be to be known as someone’s sister or someone’s daughter or someone’s sister-in-law, and this book answers all this and more.

What works

The sincere, unassuming and clever style of narration is sure to win your heart. The author has recounted all the poignant moments of her life with utmost candidness, and has sprinkled the writing with dollops of humour as well as deep emotions.

Book Review – Nothing but the plane truth

An excerpt:

Nothing But The Plane Truth serves as an eye-opener for those who harbour such a shallow and ludicrous mindset. It shatters all the myths about the life of a cabin crew member, and brings to fore the challenges and struggles which lie beneath the veil of glamour and thrill. Authored by Pinky Eppaturi who has been a flight attendant with two international airlines and a qualified Human Factors and Behaviors trainer, this is a fictionalized memoir based on true incidents from her life, but with the use of alternate names for all the characters.

Book Review – Louisiana Catch

Louisiana Catch

Book Details

Author: Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Publisher: Modern History Press

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Louisiana-Catch-Sweta-Srivastava-Vikram-ebook/dp/B0793N3ZTR/

Review

“You never asked to be raped. Biology works differently. So what if your body responded; your mind didn’t! He violated you…”

A sexual abuse survivor who I was once counselling told me about how she was accused of “enjoying her rape” because she had an orgasm, even though she kept screaming her lungs out to stop the perpetrator from committing the heinous crime. Thoughts of her ordeal make me shudder even today. So, when I read the above line in author Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s latest novel Louisiana Catch, it hit a raw nerve. It made me sit up and applaud the author’s gumption and valour to talk about issues which most would prefer to bury under their carpets.

This line actually encapsulates the essence of the novel which is an honest, uninhibited, sensitive and courageous story of a woman whose journey about finding her inner strength in the face of adversity will indubitably touch your heart.

Plot summary

Ahana is a 33 year old modern woman from New Delhi who is struggling to come to terms with her divorce. The toxic relationship has impacted her deeply, and just when she begins to pick up the pieces and move on, tragedy strikes again. She loses the most important person in her life who has always been her anchor in times of distress – her mother. Her life seems to be in shambles, and in order to escape it all, she takes up the responsibility of spearheading a feminist conference in New Orleans.

Two men enter her life at this vulnerable juncture and while one of them seems to be a friend she can open up to, she feels offended by the other’s bawdy sense of humour and ostensibly flirtatious demeanour. But, are people always the way they appear to be? Does the grief-stricken and distraught Ahana unearth the vigour from within to trust and love again? And most importantly, can Ahana break free from the gloomy labyrinths she feels caged in as a survivor of sexual violence?

What works

Realistic and relatable characters

I was mighty impressed with the way the author has fleshed out each character in the novel. They not just contribute significantly to the plot but are convincingly portrayed.  In Ahana, the author has created a protagonist who will make you experience a myriad of emotions just by the way she is. You will find yourself rooting for her, cheering for her, shedding tears with her and smiling with her. She could be anyone you know. And while the story is narrated from her perspective, you get to know as much about every other character in the tale. They are the kind of people we meet in our daily lives, bringing their own unique flavour to the novel.