Keep off the Grass – This book, written by Karan Bajaj, is about a second generation NRI who is keen to find his roots in India and also the true meaning of his life.
So, we see a confused Samrat deciding to quit his job in Manhattan to take admission in one of the most reputed B – Schools of India – IIM Bangalore. He soon realises that despite his experience as an investment banker, he is not amongst the best students of his batch. Infact, he finds himself pretty mediocre who is always struggling to improve his grades. His friend Sarkar, on the other hand always devotes less of a time in studies but still manages to be amongst the toppers. The two friend, along with Vinod, the ex army man roam around at midnight on the streets of Bangalore, smoke, drink and even get caught by policemen to spend a night in prison.
The story sees Samrat’s downfall from his high profile life. Is this what he really came for? What happens to Samrat and does he manage to completre his two year term successfully at the management institute? Does he succeed in discovering his real self and realises what he actually wants in his life? All this forms the storyline.
The hectic life at the managemnet institute, the tension to get good grades and internship, students succumbing to immense pressure and committing suicide have been effectively portrayed by the author and readers can easily connect with it. Infact, all those aspiring to take an admission in B Schools get a good idea of the kind of life they are going to lead in their two year term.
Apart from this, Samrat’s introduction with meditation in Northern india, his internship days at Benaras and specially his rendezovous with an aghori baba are worth reading.
Despite its theme, the narration is quiet entertaining and fast.
Overall Reveiw – A book worth reading.
Five Past Midnight in Bhopal – Yet another good book from Dominique Lapierre that went on to become international best seller. Earlier, his book Freedom at Midnight was very impressive. It dealt with events that took place in the last years of British rule in India – when Lord Mountbatten was appointed the last viceroy. The book culminates with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Like his earlier book, this book, Five Past Midnight in Bhopal is also a non fiction. It describes in detail the tragedy that is counted amongst the worst industrial disasters of the world and claimed thousands of lives in a single night – the Bhopal gas tragedy.
The pesticide plant of Union Carbide was welcomed in India and it was meant to help farmers protect their crops from ravaging insects that destroyed everything. It was meant to provide relief to the poor peasants who lost out everything just because of the deadly attack of the insects. The Union Carbide factory was also a big hope for the countless number of unemployed, low earning group and educated class of Indians who felt proud at being part of this well known name.
The pesticide plant had its share of dangers though. A toxic gas, methyl isocyanide went into making of the pesticide. The gas was extremely dangerous and that its leakage could result into disaster was a well known fact for the the authorities at Union Carbide but they were pretty much sure that they had taken ample measures to prevent any leakage and hence there was no need to worry.
The claims, however, were not for real. As drought struck India and the use of pesticide went down, the profit hungry authorities of Union Carbide decided to close the plant and focus their attention elsewhere. All this despite the fact that a huge quantity of Methyl isocyanide was stored in the tanks of the plant. The deadly gas eventually leaked killing a number of people in one night. The main accused, Warren Anderson, the Chairman of Union Carbide was never punished for the crime even though years later, people still suffer the consequences of the gas tragedy in Bhopal.
The catastrophe is traced through the lives of many characters who suffered because of the gas tragedy. For example, Padmini, a young girl whose family migrates from a remote viilage of Orissa owing to financial hardships and settles in the oriya bustee in close vicinity of the plant. It was padmini’s wedding at the night of the disaster and luckily she manages to stay alive. Many others were not so fortunate though.
The book is a moving account of the incident that shook the world. A must read for all those who want to know about the tragedy.