REVIEWS

Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery C. Shibu- Review

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Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery C. Shibu
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages: 284 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Kochery C. Shibu
  • Publishing Date: August, 2015
  • Publisher: Niyogi Books
  • ISBN-10: 9385285009
  • ISBN-13: 978-9385285004

Review:

After a long time I read a book which represents India in its truest form. An absolutely fantastic contemporary tale from a debut author. Major portion of the story takes place in Dhauladhar, which is a mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. A hydel power project construction is going on in these mountains. The story is mainly about three people from different walks of life who somehow end up at this construction site.

Nanda is an engineer and Kalari expert. He is a serious person with lots of dark secrets in his past. Though he pines for his family, he can’t go back to his home because of his turbulent past. Also he is running from law. But despite his troubles, he finds respite in slow paced mountain life of Dhauladhar and works as a civil engineer in this dam project.

Khusru is a confused Kashmiri guy. His parents ran away to Pakistan leaving him behind. Somehow he ends up with a terrorist group. He is an ambiguous character. You won’t understand whether he is a good guy or bad guy. He is one of the most interesting characters in this book. As the story moves forward we are introduced to new sides of his personality.

Rekha is a doctor by profession and dancer by passion. Kathak is her first love. She has traveled all over the world to learn and perform. She is a strong willed woman, many men around her tried to court her but she rejected them all. She is searching for love of her life. She believes nothing will matter when the right person comes along. Basically like every girl she believes in fairy tale love.

Major part of the story is dedicated to describe the terrorist attack. A particular terrorist group wants to blow up the dam so that they can weaken Indian government. Khusru is their pawn in this plan. They recruit him to do their heinous job. You have to read the full story to know whether our Indian authorities are able to stop this attack or not.

Apart from the main characters, I really liked the portions where author talks about the villagers who live near this dam project. These are traditional folks. For them their traditions, customs and even their superstitions are very important. They consider it almost sacred. But now the world around them is constantly changing and they can’t do anything about it. They are just mute spectators who can only watch while their traditions die a slow death. I really appreciate how author represented their sentiments.

There is no doubt it’s a lengthy book. Almost half portion of the book is dedicated to describe the dam project. Story is full of technical details which I personally enjoyed. It tells you more about how things work, what kind of problems and injustice the laborers face or how they overcome these problems. I was able to connect with this story so much because of these minute details. Also all the main characters have elaborate back stories about their fathers & forefathers. Author really invested a lot of time to make these characters interesting and realistic.

But it’s a fictional tale. I can completely understand if fiction lovers find this story bit tedious because of all the technical jargons. As a reader you want the fiction part to take over the information part after a certain point. Otherwise the story can becomes dull. Then again it completely depends on our perspective. If you are a detail oriented person who enjoys descriptive tales you will definitely love this book.

Only thing which bothered me a little bit about the story is the overuse of regional language and cuss words. Even simple words were written in Hindi which was not required. Author could have easily written these words in English. It disrupted the flow of the story for me.

Best thing about the book is its Indian vibe. Story is full of interesting information; I got to know about Kalari art, Pahadi culture, Kashmiri people, hydel power project etc. It’s an amalgamation of different ethnicities, religions, customs, values and beliefs. As a reader I can clearly see that this book is a result of not only author’s personal experience but also his extensive research.

In conclusion, this story has politics, little bit of drama and tension, lots of technical details and a half baked love story. I will recommend it to all those readers who want to read more about real India.

My Rating. 3.5/5

Thank you Mr. Shibu for providing me the opportunity to review this book.

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