Book Review: Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish

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Book cover for Scion of Ikshavaku

Cross-posted from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3081641646

Scion of Ikshvaku was my first Amish book. Amish has been called India’s literary rockstar, and has been compared with Dan Brown. So, naturally, I was much excited about reading him. Although I liked the storytelling, I was put off a bit by his writing style.

Being born and bred in a Hindu family, I knew the story in and out. So I carried a certain amount of bias into reading Amish’s version of Ramayan. Despite this I loved the big and small twists in this story, especially the parts where Amish has given logical explanations for what we’ve been taught since centuries to be the results of supernatural phenomena. I really liked that; Amish is super creative there.

I also loved how Amish has portrayed feminism throughout the book. Sita is shown as a strong-willed and independent better half of Ram, which is a far cry from her character’s TV adaptations. In most Hindu hymns and religious songs, Sita is worshipped along with Ram. After reading Amish’s version, I can now better appreciate why this is so. Also, Ram’s steadfast belief in monogamy and his reasons for that are very well put together by Amish. I enjoyed the bits where feminine and masculine societies were contrasted through Ram’s own thoughts.

Perhaps the best thing I liked in the book was Ram’s character development. Amish couldn’t have done a better job on that. During second half of the book I fell in love with the character, especially his stoicism, clear beliefs and respect for the law. His godlike mastery over archery was well represented.

What I didn’t like, however, were the clichés that Amish used generously throughout the book. His writing style in this book reflected a childlike excitement around telling a cleverly written story. I also felt a general lack of thrill in the story. Again, that could be because of my pre-contained biases. I knew the whole story already. But I tried my best to keep my existing knowledge at bay while reading Amish’s version. Still, I feel some major turns and twists may have been make more thrilling. The supposed cliffhanger (Hanuman’s entry) in the end also felt a bit lackluster.

Overall, Amish’s Scion of Ikshavaku is a good read, especially for people who want to go deeper into historical aspects of Ramayan’s world and want logical explanations for its events. But unless someone assures me that the next book in series (Sita) has a better writing and storytelling, I may not pick it up.

Stardust

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Stardust
Stardust

Just a small random poem I scribbled during my last journey to home.

Out I went under the starry sky,
unaware of the full moon shining bright.

So beautiful as was the view;
so much to see, so much to love.

I had only drunk half a glass of its glory
when my eyes turned red and mind heavy.

Lusty eyed I passed out staring at the sky;
what was left to be seen came in my dreams.

Dreams of galaxies far away, but they bust
in the morning when I was woken by stardust.

Once Upon a Time in a Corporate Board Room

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Picture Collage

I wrote this micro-story as my second entry for a short story writing contest at Accenture. My first story was Mihir Learns to Golf. In this second story, I made use of all the six pictures in the collage (above). And yes, this one has a moral as well — team spirit.

Once upon a time in a corporate board room, a meeting on how to impress the clients went on between a project’s leadership. On a wall was being projected a presentation that taught them several management tactics to maximize deliveries in least possible time, even if that were to happen on cost of team’s satisfaction levels. A certain Hitler stood there delivering his anecdotes as the others sat nodding.

Then suddenly the door opened and in came light. Few seconds later, there stood King Cutner, the project’s global lead. He had come without warning, for he had been hearing bad things about the local leadership. So he, in his usual charming self, delivered a speech expressing his concerns. He spoke and everyone listened, including Hitler the presenter.

King took a pause and motioned toward the nearest flower pot, from which he picked up a handful of sand. He then gradually loosened his grip and let the sand slip back.

“As long as we are together, in a fist, we are a team. If we take our team for granted and let go of it, each member will take their own route and the team will fall apart.”

Mr. Cutner called upon to see his entire team. During his week’s stay, he talked to each one of them, motivated them, and trained them to work as a team, like participants of a rowing team with King at the helm. When work became overwhelming, King took them out for sports, mostly golf.

There was happiness in the team, and everyone worked hard for the crucial next release. When needed, they passed the baton to the next member, giving them a chance to innovate. In the end, the team of 25 won the race. The clients were happy with the results, and proud of having given their assignment to Accenture as they walked out the hallway.

Update: I got the 1st prize in the writing contest for this story.

Mihir Learns to Golf

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Golf

This micro-story was my first entry for a recent story writing contest at Accenture (results have yet to be declared). The contest was about writing a moral-supported tiny story based on a set of given pictures. I wrote mine around picture above, one of the six provided.

It’s a cheesy kids’ story with a happy ending. Oh yes, if you are wondering about golf in evening, well, it’s summers!

Prologue
A 12 year old Mihir had this bad habit of finishing his homework fast, never bothering about accuracy, to satisfy his mom, who wouldn’t allow him to go play with friends before homework was finished. Mihir followed a similar approach when preparing for tests.

I
One afternoon, he came home weeping. As he entered, he saw not only his mom at the dining table, but also his dad, who had come home early. His weeping became hard.

“Come here,” Dad called out from the table. Mihir slowly trotted to near his dad’s chair. Dad removed the sheet of paper from Mihir’s hand that he was hiding behind his back.

“Six out of twenty, in Maths,” Dad announced. He looked at Mom, who defensively added “I keep on telling him to study more carefully. This is what happens…” She was interrupted as Dad gestured to calm the angry Mom. Dad turned to Mihir.

“Do you want to come along for golf in the evening?”

Mihir shook his head.

“Don’t look at Mom. She’ll be fine. Be ready at 5.”

II
At the golf course, Mihir carried around his Dad’s kit to fulfill his caddie duties. Spotting a good location, his Dad halted. He grounded the tee, placed the ball, and swung his club. The ball landed near the 1st hole. Mihir followed his Dad to the hole and watched him carelessly putt the ball, which overshot the hole by a good margin.

“Dad,” cried out Mihir, “you ought to hit it slowly.”

Dad went to the ball, took his time to aim carefully, and, this time, hit it gently along the green. Mihir watched it drop into the hole.

“Yay! You did it, Dad!” exclaimed a cheery Mihir.

“Do you know why the ball went right into the hole this time around?”

“Why, you played more carefully.”

“Exactly! And this is how you can improve your test results too…” Dad continued to explain to Mihir how he was not aiming right and driving his studies hastily. Mihir listened to his father inquisitively and promised to apply the lesson learned.

Epilogue
In his next Math test, Mihir got 15 out of 20, his all-time best.