TOKE by JUGAL MODY (Originally published in The Book Review, November 2012)
Toke means puffing a pipe or pot filled with Marijuana. And true to its title, you get high with the novel’s surreal plot. The story is set in motion as you are introduced to Nikhil the protagonist who is fighting to come out of ganja-induced hallucinatory dreams. He is a regular guy with a regular job and suffers from regular bouts of insecurity, jealousy and disillusionment. Toking is his only escape from his not-so-interesting quotidian life. One day when he is in the middle of a cannabis induced hallucination, Lord Vishnu, the preserver God from the Hindu trinity, makes an appearance and joins Nikhil and his friends in a session of pot smoking. In between, He tells Nikhil the world is going to end in next 72 hours and Lord Vishnu has no time for another incarnation to save the world. So, He entrusts Nikhil with the responsibility of saving the humanity from total destruction. He warns Nikhil if Lord Shiva, the destroyer and reproducer of the trinity, comes to know about the imminent extinction of the human race, He will be more than happy to destroy this world Himself and then to rebuild it. Nikhil who first thinks it is some sort of joke from that strange person who is wearing a dress like the gods from the mythological serials. But, soon he realises that the person is real Lord Vishnu and the demons have already unleashed mysterious maggots to transform every single human being into zombies. He accepts the challenge and set out with his friends to save the humanity.
The special about this book is the inventiveness of its narrative structure. Plus, the cleaver use of language makes this book highly readable. The dialogues sound real and give you an insight into the lingo of the generation X. At times, the story becomes confusing but the things get cleared once you progress further. Jugal Mody might not be applauded for the literary merits of his debut book by the critics but will certainly get thumbs up from his readers for writing such a fantastical and fun filled book.
India’s Olympic Story
(The review published in The Book Review, November 2012 issue)
An outcome of three-way collaboration between British Council, Abhinav Bindra Foundation and Tulika Publishers, India’s Olympic Story is a slim book targeted to teenagers but can also be useful to anybody interested in a quick read about the Olympic Games and the Indian achievements at this greatest sporting extravaganza.
Divided in to two sections, the first part of the book gives us the historical details about the Olympics. It delineates the mythology behind the beginning of the ancient Olympic Games which dates back to 776 BCE. The saga of the modern Olympics started in 1896 when its first edition was organised in Athens, Greece. The first section also has information about the Indian association with the Olympic movement. In 1900, Norman Pritchard, an Indian of British decent, who had entered the Paris Olympic Games casually, became first Indian to win a medal. Later, in 1927, Indian Olympic Association was formed and the very next year a contingent of 22 players was formally sent to participate in the Amsterdam Olympics. The team returned with gold in hockey. After that the country has participated in every edition of the Summer Olympics. In the Winter Olympics, Indian participation has been occasional. The most delightful inclusion in this section is the information about the Paralympic, the special version of the Olympics that is organised for the physically challenged people. There is also a chapter on traditional Indian games and rural Olympics.
The second half of the book profiles some of all-time great Indian Olympians. Noteworthy among them are Dhyanchand, the magician of field hockey, Milkha Singh, the flying Sikh, Abhinav Bindra , the gold medalist shooter and K D Jadhav. Out of these four, Jadhav remains an unsung Olympic hero despite being the first individual medal winner of independent India. A big achievement by any yardstick. It was K D Jadhav who ‘paved the way for future Olympic athletes with his determination to excel, unflinching dedication, single-minded focus and never-say-die spirit. He achieved the impossible without having access to state-of-the-art training facilities and money’
Aesthetically produced and beautifully illustrated, the book is also replete with interesting anecdotal stories, games trivia and witty cartoons.