Monday, 26 June 2017

A city, lost.

_____________________________
Published today in Bangalore Mirror as, 'A paradise lost, forever '. 

The rain  lashes against my windscreen as Axl Rose hits high decibels in praise of a paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. I join in to celebrate namma own paradise city when the radio crackles and utter chaos unleashes outside.  

Barely a few yards out of a blissful, tree-canopied avenue with golf greens to my right and heavily guarded colonial buildings to my left, the cacophony of traffic violently shakes me from my happy place, launching me into my aggro-best to combat the arrogance of a dark-tinted monster-vehicle bullying its way into my lane already compromised by a police barricade. Everyone is rushing and not one will spare a second to give way to, well, save time! As for space, it costs an arm and vital organs these days, so, no one spares that either. My paradise city is a paradise no more. Its a maniacal metro like any other, where twitter is but a forty-character virtuality. 

Bizarre. Common.

I repossess my lane and drive into an underpass cloistered between tall glassy towers jeering through suffocating tree-tops jostling to be seen amidst big name boards and bigger walls. Mindless human avarice has usurped the last stretch of blue skies, and along with it, an inherent calm that set this city apart. The garden city now sprouts but concrete and metal into that horizon which once sported sunrises and retreating birds. Where have all our sparrows gone?!

Bangalore itself is a stifled soul, haunted by its own roguish development and thoughtless scale.
This city kept its denizens free and grounded. It was aspirational in as much as it could dignify and shrugged away what wore it down. Its resilience evoked awe. Bangaloreans read and took time to converse. They revelled in its unique contrasts. They had no point to prove. Our thinkers now retreat in nooks of a graceful past. Or in tech-corridors and lit-fests.  

If there ever were a thesaurus of cities, Bangalores synonyms would list: calm, composed, sensitive; distinguished, nonchalant; pleasant, welcoming; self-sufficient; culturally astute, emotionally evolved, non-confrontational; aspirational, intellectual, well-read. Colloq: a keeper. We wore it all, like a prestigious brand. Today, Bangalore is a keeper still, but glosses over fine print. Like a common contractor.

Too common. Maybe thats why, unless suffixed with sense and good, I detest common. And as this piece is about my long-lost paradise city, I urge you, dear reader, to treat the form, spirit and force that guides common with as much contempt as I do because Bangalore was never common. Common has cost us dearly. 

I would have stopped here if not for the unmistakable coo of a koel! In the thick of my concrete jungle beside a hell-raising highway of humans in urgent pursuit of daily hell, he calls melodiously. I dont see him but a rare spectrum of reds glowers in the twilight. He coos again the light drizzle setting a perfect tone. Its a miracle.  

Along a bare road-side of urbanisation, we had planted some saplings last June. We hoped the trees would detox the air and bring back our butterflies. Many saplings died but, maybe, the city acknowledges our amends.

Its June again. The mornings are chilly and there is a haze through the day. Every day. Temperatures swing in the twenties and you can smell new rains coming in from mountains off South. Its the monsoons. On time. Like they used to be, once upon a time, a long time ago.

The koel returned. Maybe, Bangalore will too.               
_________________________

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Whole Nine Yards - 4

Draped by the River

“Promise never to leave me alone and I will marry you”
“I promise”
“But if I ever find that you are not by my side, I will leave you for ever”
“It will never be so”

And the beautiful Cauveri, daughter of Kaver Muni, the benevolent sage of the Brahmagiri forests, was married to the powerful Rishi Agastya, besotted by the enchanting vision of Cauvery the moment he laid eyes on her.  


But this marriage, made in heaven, had a destiny to fulfil on the blessed land of Kodagu. The very first morning after their wedding, Rishi Agastya realised what he had got himself into. As usual, he was awake before the Sun and his prayer ritual needed him to take a dip in the mountain spring. He would fill his little kamandal (kettle-like container to carry holy water) and take it with him for his prayers. But Cauvery was still asleep and he didn’t want to wake her up. So, he used his powers gained from years of tapasya (penance), collected her in his little kamandal and took her with him. He was pleased to have found a way to keep his promise of never leaving her alone - yes, men have always tried to have their way ;)

This went on for a few days and all was well. Cauvery proved to be as wonderful as she was beautiful and Agastya fell deeper and deeper in love with her, until one day, his perfect plan fell apart. 

He went for his dip as he did every day, placing the kamandal, with Cauveri in it, by the side of the spring. Cauvery woke up unusually early and found herself trapped in a strange way. She looked around for Agastya and couldn’t see him anywhere. She was alone. 

Agastya had broken his promise, but she was going to keep hers. With all her strength, she tossed the kamandal, spilling herself out of it. Agastya was distraught and tried his best to get her back into the kamandal, begging her forgiveness but Cauveri wouldn’t have any of it. She flowed down the mountain, away from him, gaining velocity and girth as she advanced down the hills as a river in full force. When the people came to know of this catastrophe, they rushed out in their hoards to stop her, pleading with her not to abandon them and the land. 

Her love for the people made her stop a while to assure them that she was merely living out her destiny, that she was born to bring water to the soil deprived of rain by evil demons and that it was the purpose of her birth to sustain the bounty hidden in the hills and fulfil her father's desire of serving the people of this mystical land. That, she was always going to be by their side and in their lives, as their river of life. 



She promised them something else then, that holds as dear and strong today … she gave them a unique identity that would make them be known and recognised as her children, for all eternity. Gushing down the contours of the Brahmagiri, her waves forced the flowing garments of the women folk around, turning their pleats to the back and the pallus across their chests, looping over their shoulders.
                                             
Mythology has it that from that day on, the martial women of Kodagu have worn their saris, the Kodava Podiya, in this unique and graceful style that many admire. See how they like to don it today, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRu3Xph3Xl8

There are many delectable twists to this myth but the more modern theories are based on the practical requirements of an agrarian lifestyle and cold mountainous terrains - women needed to be warmly clad and hence the full body-wrap came about and as pleats in the front came in the way of navigating steep hills and work in wet paddy fields, it was more sensible to turn the impeding pleats to the back, away from the rough paths and crops in the front. 

So you see, there is a lot more to the sari than meets the eye! Stay on loom for more :)

___________________
Previously in The Whole Nine Yards series:
The Whole Nine YardsOnce Upon a Pallu, Six Yards of Simmering Svelte

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Serendipity

Give it up indulgent Sun,
you've parched the land aplenty.
The mountains beyond pull their misty curtains tight
and a million greens dance in glee.
You've been harsh but Mercy's time has come.
Retreat. Desist. You're undone.

Hear the Thunder roll - heed its word.
Even Lightning streaks its say.
The Clouds have broken their pregnant pause...
how long would you bind them away?

Ah! The joy of sun-kissed trees,
that flash of gold in grey when
the clouds part just to let you in
so your presence still holds sway...
If only you knew your place in time
your glory could still reign.
Alas! You lost your plot today -
Depart. Stay sublime.

The mountains crave a drink of life.
Begone and let them be.
The rain is come and the land is numb...
in relief, in respite and peace.
It's kept its promise to its lot.
It's kept the Earth here green.
The Sky will testify to your ills,
the Winds will heave a sigh.

No thanks to you, the soil will sing
as Hail raises a toast.
Fog's blanket spreads its span again
for Night to calm all nerves.

And Man will think upon his greed...
He must. If he must be.

So, go now, overbearing Sun.
Go, till morning's due.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

App Review - ABC MULTILINGO

ABC MULTILINGO
Language Learning App for Pre-schoolers
Review




Language proficiency is important today with travel starting young and global experiences becoming an integral part of growing up. Knowing multiple languages and speaking them comfortably help the dynamic process and build confidence. As children begin to recognise faces, places, things and their differences, they begin to imbibe nuances in speech and phonetics as well. Educators believe that multi-lingual children have a cognitive edge over others and tend to be better adjusted socially and emotionally.

Though language skills are a natural process of development, today, children are exposed to a much wider spectrum of languages at a very young age – it is essential that teachers and parents provide the right tools, at the right time, to hone their natural abilities so that the static of multiculturalism serves to homogenise, rather than ruffle the learning experience. Being a hands-on mum, I personally prefer outdoor and inventive play and do not subscribe to children being glued to screens for long. But we do live in a technologically charged world and living spaces come with scarce outdoors. Screen-time is the inevitable play-time.

Fortunately, there are some savvy aps in the market to make screen-time worthy and I found that ABC MultiLingo by Gurusqueaks stands out as a sensitively designed, high-quality international product, beautifully packaged for tender pre-schoolers and early learners.

12 languages

Your child learns the English alphabet, letter by letter, co-relating its use in everyday activity, through cartoons and realistic pictures of familiar objects. But as we are a multi-cultural society, it is important to know what these objects are commonly referred to as in our mother-tongues and other languages as well. With 12 languages to choose from, ABC MultiLingo is perfect for the little linguist in the making.

Native diction
Is it toh-maah-toh or toh-may-toh? An acquired language comes with such uncertainties but your child will know better because each of the 78 words featured in ABC MultiLingo is articulated by native speakers. Your child will learn the most widely accepted native pronunciation and speak it naturally.

Three-level fun-filled gaming


We all know how difficult it is to get a toddler to sit still for more than a few moments. And for parents like myself who do not believe in using the iPad or telly to keep a child ‘occupied’, ABC MultiLingo’s fun, theme-based three-tier game module takes little minds through an entertaining world of words, fun and entertainment. They are engaged with colourful pages set to peppy music so that they will not even realise when study time comes and goes. While they enjoy the singing, dancing and playing, you will notice them spouting new words and speaking like little aces, thanks to balanced cognition and robust retention. Oh! And if you want to be part of this learning process as well, just switch off the background voice and let the music accompany your teaching. The vivid pages are easy to shift back and forth and you will have your share of parent-child time as well. This feature (among many others) also makes it apt for use in pre-schools and other educational establishments. 

Easy does it
ABC MultiLingo can be easily downloaded via in-app purchases off App Store and Google Play. It comes with various options and is easy to navigate, has an engrossing interface with catchy page layouts, eye-friendly colouring and a very clever transliteration option that doubles up as a ready reckoner between English and the other 11 languages offered. How else do you think I know that apple, ‘simply said’ in Spanish, is manzana

And did I mention that the first three letters of all languages can be downloaded for free? Well, though this app is very economically priced, it is still always good to be able to take a test drive before buying.

COPPA compliant
Apart from design and quality, ABC MultiLingo wins on safety as well. Compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, this language-learning app will safely navigate your child’s curiosity without unwelcome plug-ins, ads, rating requests or inappropriate content. So, when I do need to leave my child alone for a few moments with this app open, I can breathe easy and get myself a cuppa tea.

Whodunit
The brains and brawn behind this learning app, Gurusqueaks, is powered by well-respected media veterans. This inspires the confidence that ABC MultiLingo will become more and more engaging with every new release. 

Aye or Nay
Aye! ABC MultiLingo gets my un-reserved ‘happy mommy vote’

_________________
Also published in the May edition of Emirates Parent Plus. 


Friday, 31 March 2017

The Whole Nine Yards - 3

Six Yards of Simmering Svelte



I am planning my outfit for a friend’s twins' meet-and-greet luncheon and a soft silk with an exquisite multicoloured Bandhini looks perfect. It promises to be a sweltering Indian summer’s day and though classic Chandheris or comforting MulMuls are tempting, my darling mother’s exclusive collection has entrapped my heart. I find it hard to find such designs easily today, and have decided to gradually usurp her entire wardrobe, starting with this one.  

If the Indian loom is renowned for anything, it is for the plethora of Saris gifted to world fashion. There isn't a fabric invented yet that the garment has not embraced and there isn’t a nook on the globe that the Sari has not trot upon. It naturally follows that many design houses have sported a Sari line. Very few are yet to dabble with the six yards in any form – the trepidation, if that, is understandable because the Sari does evoke such reverence as to demand a very sound creative faculty to justify experimentation.

But if you still envision the dapper drape as a thing to be watched on a ramp, put your hands up party people, the summer seethe is upon the northern hemisphere and the Sari just turned the heat up some more!  

Look at what our show stoppers have been up to this autumn-winter-spring with Vogue Sari kicking off the Amazon India Fashion Week and the Sari’s has-been fabulousness showcased at the Lakmé Fashion Week as well. As for what holds designers in awe of the Sari, why it is always on-trend and how it inspires edgy catwalks irrespective of time and place, just scout the internet and you’ll know. This designer is just one of many to check out.  

Carrying on the timeless sentiment through summer, enjoy, beautiful people, and feel free to add your own ideas and memories in the comments section below.

In the meanwhile, enjoy these links: 

Vogue Sari Show kicks off India Fashion Week 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-JhACZS74A


Sari 24/7 at the Amazon India Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2017
 India Fa



‘I was a Sari’ by Stefano Funari at the Lakmé Fashion Week 2017 and the tales they wove beyond the drape
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT9IPOUL358

.........
Also see:
For some mythical legacy, read the next one: Draped by the River .
Previously in the series:
The Whole Nine Yards and Once Upon a Pallu.
There's gonna be more on this, so do come back :)


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

On World Poetry Day

Stand up and take a chance -
leave no glimmer without a glance.
There may be a pothole,
there might be a ranch -
you'll never know for sure
till you reach out and branch.

Never say never,
the Sun will always shine.
If yesterday was yours to keep,
tomorrow could me mine. 

Fear the thought of fear itself -
conquer what it stalls.
Life brings us sprouts anew
with every rain that falls. 

The wizened tell of daring feats -
listen to what they say.
Their ghosts won't come to change our fate -
their wisdom, though, will stay.

Trust, but keep the blindfolds off,
see what lies ahead -
For every brilliant light you see
there is a shadow shed. 
Fret not the shadow that evades
your quest for what you seek.
Fret neither the time delays -
in your own time, you'll peak. 

In verse, I speak my piece today -
it's poetry's own good day.
And while I labour, still at it,
I have but this to say:
Try, strive and give it your all;
when opportunity strikes, say, Hey!
I am not old, but those younger still,
you'll have another sway -
dance your style, make your wave.
Take Destiny to the Ball.
She is yours... as yours can be -
just be sure to make that call. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Wicked Game

Video for representation only. Courtesy YouTube.
What is this curse
that your beauty shall not be seen
by those who know not to seek it?
Your fragrance fills nocturnal light
and your vision mesmerises sight;
yet before dawn you beat it.
Which immortal wish fulfilled
makes your magic rare?
Why do you hide, consort of one night?
What latent sorrow will you not share?
Why are you shy of the Sun, Earth's own star?
What unspeakable secret do you bear?
Why do you tease the longing few?
Why do you make us wait?
And when we rejoice upon your blooming gait
why do you never stay?
Or is it your wait for that elusive mate
which makes you glow so bright?
Is it those wondrous dreams you weave,
which unrequited, leave you sedate?
Could it be too that you get what you seek?
That rare, unseen, in a moment so tender,
your glorious face gushes with grace ...
and spent and content you surrender?
Beauty is selfish. I have heard them proclaim
that it appears, and leaves, so it is yearned for.
Are you the same, bequest of thunder and rain?
Enigma’s kin, is this your wicked game?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Light unseen

It takes a while to understand
that dark is light unseen.
All it takes is a moment
if you're really keen.
Tell me why the Moon is bright
and still sports a darkish side.
Why do shadows seek to speak
behind a luminous peak?
Why does the Sun shine its time
only to shortly hide?

Is it the way it's meant to be
or do we fail to see?

It doesn't really hide, does it?
It's we who turn away...
We turn our backs to fact,
to a reality, led astray.
It is us, and not the Sun
that ceases then to shine.
It is us and not the Moon
that rides a lofty tide.
It is us and not the truth
that will not stand a test.

It is us, always us,
longing, at Dark's behest.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Truth be told



They asked me for two lamps. Because a pair is more auspicious than one. But light is light. One lamp or two – how many are there in the Sun? 

They thought a while and considered. Beat, they smiled and surrendered. But logic is stark and doctrine is dark – fact became as fiction rendered. 

Scriptures preach to set us free. Believe. And you won’t be forsaken. But freedom comes from fearlessness – or are the bonded yet to awaken? 

Ask and you’ll receive say the Good. If charity were free I probably would. Here all things that count, come at a price – so, you do what you can and I’ll do what I should. 

Action counts more than words. That’s a simple truth to keep. Learnings from life don’t come without sight – yet the blind will drive us into deep. 

Look within, you’ll find your fate. Believe your instincts, you’ll never hate. Faith and freedom beget one another – beyond the church, or temple, or caliphate. 

‘It’s a wonderful world’, sang the blind bard. Still, those with eyes fail to see it. Creation was free, until we had it trussed – bonsaied and stunted, by decree albeit. 

The saint calls for love. Yet the cleric will not sway. Wound tight in instruction, loose robes will never give away that humanity is love and its shrine lies within – maybe it’s too simple, such philosophical foray.  

Heaven embark, your time has come. Or is it your will to appease? Truth stands convicted upon the Earth – speak now or forever hold your peace. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Whole Nine Yards - 2

Once Upon a Pallu


 A trusty little black dress works its magic at a high-stakes gala and all goes as planned until heads turn to pay due respects to a swooshing six-yarder making its haute entry. Quite clear in her mandate and assured in her stance, this real-life cat-woman wears her cape on her arm.  She is well-heeled, suitably accessorised and, despite a racy neckline, she is utterly graceful. And because she is technically ‘traditionally’ dressed, she is also appropriately attired to address an unexpected boardroom debacle directly after. Back home, when a conservative elder meets her at the door, a firm tug of the pallu over her shoulders serves her just fine. For the benefit of a stricter doctrine, she simply drapes it over her head. Yes, she plays it well. Dignified, contemporary, complete and confident in her ethnicity, she is our sampoorna bharatiya nari, the epitome of elegance.  


True to its cultural roots, very few apparels lend themselves to such versatility and grace as the sari does. And when it comes to the ‘sentiment’ that the sari is, we are trekking down time lines that date back to the birth of crude looms and cruder yarn. Then, we had muslin that famously ran miles through a ring. Now, our Kancheepuram silk gives any ring a run for its money. Every nook of India brings out treasures that drape our ladies in yarns and styles that lend them a distinctiveness which is sometimes earthy, sometimes opulent, every fibre, always, inspiring deep sentiments in all who surround them.


We are rarely aware of it and there is no written rule to this effect anywhere, but there is always a story lying there in those folds which bear different names, each carrying a significance, all of its own. If the ghoonghat is demure incarnate, a bride’s jewel, a solemn lineage and sanctifies Indian deference, a mother’s aanchal* is the go-to panacea for all ail. It is an impenetrable fortress for the terrified ragamuffin hiding from impending danger, be it wicket-walloping off cricketing streets or a high volume domestic flare-up. This matchless power of a screen of fabric is deeply ingrained in every childhood memory in a generation that saw mothers as the first and last resort to anything. This palliative pallu fanned every heat away. It wiped all the tears. It was the antidote to every wound. And when a little girl decided, one day, to act all grown up, “just like ma”, she wound her mum’s sari around her little self and let the world know.

That’s the sari for you. An enduring identity. An essence of security. A paean to ethereal poise. And a quiet contentment that unites times. It was never just a drape. Sentiments are never so simple.

Also see: The Whole Nine Yards  and Six Yards of Simmering Svelte
Come back for more on this.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

To my birthday boy

When they say age is a number,
ask a mother's heart
that waits upon each moment
right from the start.

Every turn, every coo,
every kick that turns her blue,
every twitch, every ache...
a million times over she will take
because those nine months were not numbers,
they were worlds she cherished
awake and sedate...dawn to late.

And now, there are fights and senseless squabbles.
There are those 'orders' and sporadic baubles.
Each year that rolls on is a laurel on laurels -
every one a victor, despite the foibles.

And now I stand, the mist filling my eye.
When I look up to you, I can't help but sigh.
My not-so-little man, all of fifteen,
I see it in your eyes, in your manner so keen
that age was never just a number.
Your years, Son, are an appraisal, of goals seen and unseen.
It's my score-card of promise - my graph past the mean.

My heart swells with pride,
as I watch your unmistakable stride.
Your life lies ahead, waiting,
its winds, serenading.
Happy Birthday, my darling, my life, my love, my joy.
And while time makes you stronger still,
you'll be, forever, my wonderful little boy. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

She, the keeper

He waits for the dark to engulf him.
He finds that rather safe.
The moonlight sways to tease his eye
but gets lost in the alley’s haze.

     She walks alone, her home in sight
     of the city that’s asleep.
     He makes his move. Under the street lamps high,
     he bids to daunt her grace.

She fends him off.
"That daring bitch! How dare she stay out late!
And then to say she’s not for takes ...
what insolent craze!"

     A city swells in loud lament,
     its reputation at stake!
     What’s changed so much? Why do evils rise now
     from celebrations’ daze?

"The winter’s winds are warmer", you say,
"And the streets are rife with life!"
What one would think as grand design
is another’s watcher’s maze.

     You blame the wind, the people new.
     You blame the men in chair,
     while all the while their clout returns
     its misogynistic gaze.

"Times have changed!" you beat your chest
so someone sane might hear.
But what should work with the culture-cross
is lost in its own embrace!

     Come, World. As one, let’s unite,
     for all change is in the mind.
     An ethos heaves to meld its styles while
     Grit’s own chaperone pays.

Oh! Dark! Let your curse be short-lived now.
Let your terror become paled.
Oh! Moon! Will your light be sweet again?
Will her daring yet lose face?! 

     Oh! Mother of he who preys on her,
     will you be there to show
     that while he lurks in darkness’s fold
     you’ll be her shield, unfazed?

Tell him now, that she is you
in as much as you are her.
That a woman’s womb is mankind’s lair -
its power never sways.

     Tell him now, to hold his own.
     He’s not temptation’s keep!
     Tell him he’s as equal as her,
     whatever bigotry says.

Tell her too, that she’s not weak.
Her freedom is no prisoner.
Tell Night that it should free her soul
and release her to liaise.

     Or, do this. Look him in the eye
     and make him contemplate.
     Is it that he is afraid that she might soar?
     And dare. And beat! And amaze.

Hold him tight and ask him so.
Or say that your love is blind.
And admit that you are weak as well -
that you too will avert Question’s gaze.

     Who made this rule
     that he is tough and she will always flee?
     What vile plan has mustered
     such a regressive blaze?

And what has Knowledge taught you?
Are our schools not meant to be
that playground of high wisdom
where learning carves new ways?

     Ask yourself, you Moral’s slave,
     "What greatness can I find
     in kicking Dame Fortune’s image
     while singing her hymns of praise?"

It’s a travesty when Liberty fails
and a society will not see 
that a woman free makes man whole.
She’s another mother’s brace.

     You fool, awake! It’s Destiny’s cry.
     She’s not some prize to play.
     She’s your sense, your means to stay. 

She, is your maker. She’s the keeper of your race!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Book Review - Mr Iyer Goes to War


Mr Iyer Goes to War - Ryan Lobo
A logic-defying, maverick, rollercoaster of a thriller 3D read.
Popcorn, anyone?
 

     “
When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin”.
Even in translation, even with the day’s twitter-size sensibilities, and even though very few find succour in the existentialist stronghold of Franz Kafka’s writing, his most unforgettable opening line of The Metamorphosis, haunts. This is not just because the writing is stark but because the imagery connects at a basic level of humanity’s absurd struggle for emotional wellbeing.
Cut to Varanasi.
Ryan Lobo’s debut protagonist, Mr Iyer, breaks free from the absurdity of his own existence and takes us on a fantastical rampage, all too real.
The Ganges flows unperturbed, as two accomplished gentlemen lay on adjacent hospice beds, waiting to die, alone. While one fought for the country and has a gallantry medal honouring that service, the other, Mr Iyer, is a warrior of words and learning, gallant in his pursuit of fine literature that finds expression every now and again in erratic tirades of mindless whim and exasperation. Lalgudi Iyer is over 70, proficient in the scriptures and strong-willed. He has a very keen chela, the ever-eager disciple who more than makes up for his Dom lowliness with an almost awe-inspiring passion for esoteric verses, writing his own and quoting from grand literary canons that erudite Iyer brandishes from time to time. While Iyer awaits spiritual enlightenment, Bencho’s aim is to become the Corporator of his own constituency and sees his ticket to power in Iyer’s earthly family connections.
One morning, painful knee miraculously unlocked, concussed and with his mind free of sanity, Mr Iyer Goes to War. But unlike Kafkas Samsa who gets trapped as a monstrous vermin, Lobos Iyer flees to freedom, traversing the length and breadth of India, ridding it of its evils. The Ganga-side re-creation of Don Quixote, duly packaged with a Sanchoesque Bencho as loyal sidekick, Iyer, fulfils all heroic desires that ordinarily occupy, and remain imprisoned in, the mortal subconscious. Armed with a stick and no more, this divine hero from the realms of mythology, dramatically overpowers gun-toting henchmen and rescues hapless earthlings. And because he is also hapless in his human love for the half-beautiful Damayanti, the resplendent Goddess of his fantasy-world inspires loftier heroics in his superhuman leaps as well.  Sent by the Gods, he wields a fearless spirit, speaks like an ancient noble, kneels in chivalric submission and unleashes a caged tiger. Of course, he gets beat up too, along with Bencho, but thats immaterial. Because, this is not Iyer, see? This is Bhima, the fearsome and gallant warrior prince, saviour of mankind and vanquisher of Bakasura, the force behind all things evil. Like Don Quixote, Iyer rises from a tired, finite certainty, into a space unconquered by worldly predicament.  
If you are looking for a plot in Ryan Lobo’s riotous debut, you won’t find one. And that’s what makes this modern and fun take on existential absurdity, intriguing. Real in the human situation he carves for storytelling and even more real in the intercutting of fact and fantasy through quick-take action sequences, Ryan Lobo’s photographic lens-work runs amok through the narrative and keeps the reader on edge.
Don’t look for logic here – you’ll have to delve deep and even there you might just get entangled in your own. But if a riot works for you, you’ll be talking about this for a while. 
Ryan, what will you have us do, next?   

Also on: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1879182427