Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Palace of Illusions : Mahabharat through Draupadi's eyes

A book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni that I just finished over the weekend.

Let me rephrase - I just could not put it down. I finished the entire book in 2-3 days (including Saturday when I read in between the match.. can you imagine!!!!).

Scarlett had messaged me about this book and when I saw it at Crossword, I couldn't resist after I read the backflap.

It is a wonderful book. It is about the age old epic we have all been brought up with - stories we listened to, watched on TV .. who can forget BR Chopra's Mahabharat aired every Sunday!! The magnificent sets , the glittering jewellery, the handsome men (yes yes, about 15 yrs back, there really was a glut of handsome men on TV.. Alok Nath was all we had :( , the beautiful jewellery.. ah..  Now though when I see the rerun, I gawk at it!! Why did I like it again? Never mind.. back to the topic at hand.

We are talking about Palace of Illusions. Mahabharat through Draupadi's eyes - one of the most powerful characters in the epic story. What a wonderful concept - it could have gone wrong completely. It could have been the same old Mahabharat we all know. And I am happy to report - it is NOT!

It brings to light a different world, with the same events.. but a completely different world. It is as if you are wearing a different pair of lens when seeing the same set of instances.

The book starts with her birth. All the events unfold around her.

I thought the author would not be able to bring in the events from before her marriage to the Pandavas that do not involve in her.  But she does. And weaves each of those incidents in, so nicely.

There is no chronology that is followed. That was refreshing. Sikhandi is introduced in one of the initial chapters itself without a context as to who she is. There was no introduction to Pandu and Kunti.. But do not despair - she does manage to give the story about each and every character.

So in a way, the complete epic is encapsulated in this narrative.

The focus of course is on Draupadi - what she feels, thinks as all this is happening around her. Every facet to her personality is explored - the initially insecure woman blooming into a full blown confident woman, her patience, her arrogance, her envy, the struggle for power, how she feels about being married to 5 men.. everything. 

For a change, her character is drawn out to be a bit grey portraying a dark side to her personality as well , very unlike any other mythology serials on TV - fter all she is a goddess. But through this book, she just like any other woman like you or me.. with her doubts and fears and insecurities.

She is shown to be an extremely forward thinking woman who has her opinions and does'nt hesitate to tell anyone. When reading this, you wish she had been born in the world. She would have been an awesome person for anyone to contend with.

There are many things I came to know about her too - I didn't know she had a soft spot for Karna, or that she was dark in colour (like Krishna), or that Krishna used to refer to her as Krishnaa, or that she had a power struggle with Kunti, or that she did not bother with her children too much.

I liked it for the aspects of this grand epic it opened my eyes to. I loved it being a woman - a book about a powerful woman like Draupadi and her fears and joy. The nuances she brought in to Draupadi's personality was breath taking.

The only thing I was left wondering is if it was all fact or was some of it fiction. I presume especially the ones where her emotions are described would be fiction. But its so nicely done.

I was really racing through the book - to know how she felt when Duryodhan fell into the water, was she really so arrogant.. what about the time when Dushasan tries to remove her sari.

I just completely loved it. It is a must read for everyone. I, for one have been recommending it to all the women I know!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I love MSD

And it is not an empty declaration!! I really do. :))

About 2 days late, this post. but the revelry is still on!! And how!!

What a feeling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The most awesome, the greatest feeling ever. Am I emotional?   of course I am. I also shed a few tears along with Yuvraj, Dhoni and Sachin!!!!!! As Knife said, in 1983, I was too young to appreciate what we got. And now at 32, I am beyond words. And I am so glad to have witnessed this piece of history in my lifetime.

Of course,we had it coming. We all knew in our bones, it is going to happen. We were the test champions, the T20 champions.. world cup the only one that eluded us. It had to be this year - we all knew, deep within us.. a bit scared to mention it aloud, in case we cast our evil eye on the team! God Forbid.

Coming back to the matter, oops, person at hand.. MSD!!! He is the person who needs to be credited with the win.. of course the entire team came together, fielded well, everyone contributed.. but ultimately, under his leadership. In the entire world cup series, unlike many others, we all did not depend on Sachin or other one of two players. Every person has done well across games. There is no one who has not performed.. except Sreesanth (well, I cant stand him!!!) .. this could have been only possible under a great leader.

In fact, I would go out on a limb and say this - even if he hadnt made 91, we would have won.. and I would still credit him with the victory!!

He has been the most dynamic leader of our times. Everyone will follow him to the end of the world, thats the kind of a leader he is. Accepting responsibility for what went wrong, understanding his mistakes and correcting them immediately instead of pandering to his ego, taking decisions crisply without hesitating, without paying heed to billions of opinions, standing by his players, trusting them and giving a second chance to those he believes in. 

He epitomizes what is talked about in terms of leadership abilities, leadership values in every organisation. It is very weird but as I get into a semi-leadership kind of a role, I know what I lack when I look at him in the commanding position. I have been thinking I am damned good. But when my leaders said, I am not ready yet, I kind of know what exactly they mean when I look at Dhoni. You may laugh at the comparison, but I am perfectly serious. Theres so much to learn from him.

Of course, I agree with Scarlett when she says that seeds of this win, rather this world champion tag, were borne by Ganguly. Till then, Indians did not know an aggressive captain!! He demanded, didnt feel sorry about anything, didnt care what others said, sledged the aussies as much as they did, nudged everyone, brought the team together!!

Hats off to both of you!!

If it were not for Dhoni (as a captain), I am not sure if we would have won. Scarlett had said, immediately after we won the cup " I know whats your next post gonna be - a devotional post on Dhoni"!! Lol.. so Scarlett, there you go :)

He is the hero of billions, he is where we all aspire to reach someday in our line of work.

A little on Sachin too - Virat Kohli hit the nail on its head when he said, Sachin has carried the entire nation on his shoulders for 21 yrs, its time we take it up now! And that is so true - game after game, for so many yrs, we have depended only on him. I am so happy we won the cup now, that he is still playing.

And the gen next - Virat Kohli & Suresh Raina - level headed, more than capable, no fear in the world. They are going to script the brilliant future that Indian Cricket is bound to have.

Next captain to take on the mantle from Dhoni many years from now - Virat Kohli. Watch my words.