Search for spiritual solace
Randeep Wadehra

A Grasshopper’s Pilgrimage
by Manjushree Abhinav.
Pages 173. Rs 150.

WHY ‘grasshopper’. This question hops onto one’s mindscape the moment one reads the title. It is one of the most unromantic and non-spiritual species belonging to the Orthoptera genus. Its cousin, the cricket, would have been better perhaps — at least it generates a modicum of music at night, lending a spiritual halo to tranquil nights. But then, while the critic carps, the deed has been done already; so let’s move on to the narrative. Pretty Gopika, this novel’s protagonist, desperately searches for love and spiritual fulfillment. In the process she visits various temples and spiritual centres, gets infatuated with Ramesh — a spiritual guru, and encounters men ranging from the fat Gurpreet to debonair Fareed — with a posse of firangs thrown in. If you are anticipating a spicy saga of sex and spiritualism, banish the thought. The novel hardly delves into spiritualism; there are "spiritual" persons like the weighing machinewalla who moonlights as Baba on a mosque’s footsteps in Mumbai — with a motley crowd of desi and firang seekers surrounding him; or the mendicant who chants "Arunachala Shiva" while begging for alms on Tiruvannamalai’s mountainous roads. Gopika experiments with Vipassana too. In the name of love or sex there are platonic/pseudo-romantic encounters with a bunch of ragtag drug-addicts-on-the-mend and the faceless Gurpreet and other caricatures. Only the debonair Fareed gets to bed Gopika. Her spiritual quest climaxes with her return to the mystical Mount Tiruvannamalai.

Good for a breezy once-over.

Tit for Tat to Treat for Tat
by Dr Pal.
Life Care Foundation.
Pages 194. Rs 250.

The problem with inspirational literature is that often it gets repetitive — something akin to books on religion. Yet, different self-improvement gurus keep striving for distinctiveness by coining high-sounding catch phrases. This is what Pal has done too; but with a difference. He has come up with methods like IC Therapy whereby a person can improve his attitude by communicating with himself. Interestingly, he reverses the relationship between one’s mental state and physical posture by arguing that by changing one’s physical stance one can positively affect one’s emotional state. Similarly, through ‘Human Engineering’ it is possible to generate positive vibes among people around you — be they your subordinates, colleagues, kin or friends.

The entire book is structured as a dialogue between the author and his alter ego, "Mr Gandhi". The book’s contents, presented in anecdotal and easy conversational style, might appeal to those interested in tips on self-improvement.


In Search Of Water
by Narinder Kumar Bhangu.
Pages 79. Rs 195.

Water resources are limited on this planet. With the phenomenal increase in world population this life-sustaining source is getting scarcer by the day. Currently, about a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, more than two billion people have inadequate access to water for sanitation and waste disposal, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases — and, not all patients can afford hospital beds. As if these statistics aren’t scary enough, various experts point out to the irreparable destruction of bio-diversity, imminent global water-warfare and fall in food production, among other horrific things.

One recalls such oft-repeated facts while going through this book, which has attempted a scenario circa 2065. However, the author is clearly not comfortable with the language.

In case one must write in English then at least the relevant skills must be upgraded to the required level. Good syntax, reader-friendly language and apt usage of phrases would’ve certainly made this book very useful.