Tag Archives: ashima

LITERARY CORNER: THE NAMESAKE by Jhumpa Lahiri

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Jhumpa Lahiri’s full name is Nilanjana Sudeshna “Jhumpa” Lahiri (born July 11, 1967) is an American author known for her short stories, novels and essays in English, and, more recently, in Italian.

    Her debut collection of short-stories, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ (1999) won her the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN-Hemingway Award. Her first novel The Namesake (2003), was also adapted into a popular film of the same name. Her second story collection, ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ (2008) won the ‘Frank O’Connor’ International Short Story Award, while her second novel, ‘The Lowland’ (2013), was a finalist for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. In these works, Lahiri explored the Indian-immigrant experience in America. In 2011, Lahiri moved to Rome, Italy and has since then published two books of essays, and has a forthcoming novel, written in Italian. She has also translated some of her own writings and those of other authors from Italian into English.

    In 2014, Lahiri was awarded the National Humanities Medal. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University. The novel begins in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1968. Ashima Ganguli, expecting a child, makes a snack for herself in the kitchen of her apartment, which she shares with her husband, Ashoke. The two met in Calcutta, where their marriage was arranged by their parents.

    Ashoke is a graduate student in electrical engineering at MIT. Though Ashima was afraid to move across the world with a man she barely knew, she dutifully did so, satisfying her family’s wishes. She gives birth to a boy in the hospital in Cambridge. Ashoke, nearly killed in a train accident as a young man in India, decides that the boy’s nickname, or pet name, should be Gogol, after Nikolai Gogol, the Russian writer. Ashima and Ashoke agree to register the boy’s legal name as “Gogol.” Gogol is Ashoke’s favorite author, in part because Ashoke was reading Gogol during the train accident. A dropped page of that book helped the authorities to recognize Ashoke in the wreckage, and they saved his life.

    The Gangulis wait for an “official” name for Gogol to come in the mail, from Calcutta. But Ashima’s grandmother, who has the ceremonial honour of naming the boy, suffers a stroke, and her letter with Gogol’s official name is lost in the mail. The family settles into life in Cambridge, with Ashima learning to take Gogol around on her errands. As the family prepares for its first trip back to Calcutta, Ashoke and Ashima learn that Ashima’s father has died suddenly. Their trip is shrouded in mourning. Ashima, especially, misses her parents and her home in Calcutta, despite the family’s growing network of Bengali friends in the Boston area. Around the peak of the story the lady author even brings up the abbreviation ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) and how they manage in the US.

    The Gangulis move to a Boston suburb, a university town where Ashoke has found a job teaching electrical engineering. Gogol begins pre-school, then kindergarten, and Ashima misses spending time with him, and walking around the neighbourhood. Gogol begins school, and although his parents have settled on an official name, Nikhil, for him to use there, Gogol insists on being called “Gogol,” and so the name sticks. And he is referred both as Gogol and Nikhil in the book. Ashima and Ashoke have another child, a girl named Sonia. Years pass, and the family settles into the modest house in the suburbs, on Pemberton Road. In high school, Gogol grows resentful of his name, which he finds strange, not “really” Indian. He learns about the life of Nikolai Gogol in a literature class, and is horrified by that man’s bizarre, unhappy existence. Ashoke gives Gogol a copy of Gogol’s stories for his fourteenth birthday, and almost tells him the story of his train accident, but holds back. Gogol hides the book in a closet and forgets about it.

    Gogol officially changes his name to Nikhil before going to Yale. He meets a girl there named Ruth, and they fall in love, dating for over a year. After waiting hurriedly for Gogol’s delayed Amtrak train, one holiday weekend, Ashoke tells his son about the train-wreck that nearly killed him, and that gave Gogol his name. Gogol was unaware of the story until this point. Nikhil develops a love for architecture, and after graduating from Yale, he attends design school at Columbia, then lives uptown and works for a firm in Manhattan.

    He meets a young woman in New York named Maxine, who leads a cosmopolitan life with her parent’s downtown. Nikhil essentially moves into Maxine’s home, and the two date seriously. Gogol introduces Maxine to his parents one summer, then spends two weeks in New Hampshire with Maxine’s family, the Ratliffs, believing that their life, as opposed to his parents,’ is paradise.

    Ashoke takes a visiting professorship outside Cleveland and moves there for the academic year. He comes home every three weeks to see Ashima and take care of household chores. Ashoke calls Ashima one night and tells her he has been admitted to the hospital for a minor stomach ailment. When Ashima calls back, she finds out that Ashoke has died of a heart attack. The family is stunned. Gogol flies to Cleveland and cleans out his father’s apartment. The family observes traditional Bengali mourning practices, from which Maxine feels excluded. Soon after this period is over, Maxine and Gogol break up.

    Gogol continues his life in New York, though he visits his mother and sister in Boston more frequently. Ashima sets Gogol up with Moushumi, a family friend from Pemberton Road, who now studies for a French-literature PhD in New York. Gogol and Moushumi initially resist this blind date, but later find that they like and understand one another. They continue dating and soon fall in love. After about a year, they marry in a large Bengali ceremony in New Jersey, near where Moushumi’s parents now live. They rent an apartment together downtown.

    Time passes. The couple takes a trip to Paris, where Moushumi delivers a paper at a conference. The marriage strains. Moushumi likes spending time with her artistic, Brooklyn friends, whereas Gogol finds them frustrating and selfish. Gogol also resents the spectre of Graham, Moushumi’s banker ex-fiancé, who was good friends with the artistic crew Moushumi still adores. Moushumi, feeling constricted in the marriage, begins an affair with an old friend, an aimless academic named Dimitri Desjardins. She keeps the affair a secret from Gogol for several months, but eventually Nikhil catches her in a lie, and she admits all to him. They divorce.

    Gogol returns to Pemberton Road for a final Christmas party. His sister Sonia is marrying a man named Ben, staying in the Boston area. Ashima decides to spend half her time in Boston and half in Calcutta, close to relatives. Gogol continues working as an architect in New York, but for a smaller firm where he has more creative input. Nikhil goes up to his room and finds the copy of Gogol’s stories his father gave him once, realizing how much the author meant to his father. Gogol, feeling close to Ashoke’s memory, finally begins reading Gogol when the novel ends.

    It’s a very sweet novel that will interest both Indians staying in the US and elsewhere and even Indians staying in India. The book does impact you, especially, because the world has now gone global with a stream of Indians settling down in the US and with many dreaming to be there. I would give the book eight out of ten. Do find time to read this book.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK CORNER: I AM ALWAYS HERE WITH YOU by Himanshu Rai

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

 

I AM ALWAYS HERE WITH YOU

By Himanshu Rai

Publisher: Srishti Publishers

Price Rs 195

    They say love acknowledges no boundaries. I agree to that. But then love is also a state of mind that often stands on the crutches of tragedies. In this flurry of viewpoints let me add one more—‘Love knows no time, or distance, and it certainly knows no reason- says lady author Genevieve Dewey, and then again there is that famous Hindi song ‘janam-janam ka sath hai nibha ne ko. Sao sao bar mene janam liye, a Mohd Rafi song enacted on the screen by Babita and Shammi Kapur in film, ‘Tum se accha kaun hai’ released in the year 1966. So in sum, love is ever-green and the oldest plaything that mankind pulled out from the treasures of mother earth.

    I have just finished reading this title, ‘I am Always Here With You’ written by young author Himanshu Rai who happens to be a telecom professional and also a fraternity friend of mine. It so happened by the stroke of luck I had read one of his earlier titles, this being his second one. India being a young nation, is deep in love, and therefore a number of love stories are flowering all over the place. There was once the deluge of Mills & Boon that took the ‘rustic India’ by storm. And now we have the unlimited, ‘Indian love stories’ that is taking the ‘unrealised India’ by storm.

     Since the book was published only recently I’ll refrain myself from being a spoiler. But yes of course there is Kartik and Ashima entangled in deep puppy love. Both are good students studying in Dehradun. Kartik’s father wants him to be an engineer. But his love takes him somewhere else both academically and emotionally. This only creates a deep rift between the father and the son after Kartik’s marriage with Ashima. As the story unfolds, after seven years of courtship, and two years of marriage they are now about to graduate into the next hierarchy of life. And all along Kartik attempts to mend his relationship with his father where he even seeks the support of his wife Ashima.

    All is moving well until here. But then life is, so very, unpredictable as they say. And you’ll have to read the book to find out why Ashima is now marrying someone else? And why is Kartik accepting that helplessly?

    I would desist from going any further on the storyline. But yes, the book definitely appears to be written, keeping in mind the young readers. It goes on to pass the im-memorial message, that love is crazy.

    It’s an offbeat story. Where, the author has tried to bring in, some innovative ideas that are somewhat unconventional, but not filled with cheer. The book paces well but within the same context so it gets over-descriptive at spaces where it can be avoided. There are enchanting pages about school and college romance that will mostly delight the young age group. The author has used the methodology of quote-unquote where he could have used simple narration to make the story move faster. For in the first forty pages I found the book to be slow and it picks up a little after seventy pages. But then it slows down again before the end and that is because of some meticulous descriptions that the author takes us through. The book has titillating love scenes but they do not culminate at any point. It has well captured emotions. But the author could have done well with lesser of detailing and more of events in the story. Or he could have ended the book at around, a hundred and fifty pages. To me it was like a fairy tale. High on emotions that made my own love story look pale. Once again the book is descriptive where a plethora of emotions inter-twine within the ambit of high emotions with less of engaging events or episodes.

    Some books impact you for their meaty storyline, some for the wisdom, that they provide you, some for the narration and language, and some for all of these. So, the readers need to find it out for themselves by reading the book which way the book has impacted them.

    The book is around two hundred pages written in lucid language easy to understand.

    Overall, it’s a good read, for the college crowd and even other grown up youngsters where slow moving stories with high pitch emotions can be a selling point.

    A line that I liked out of the book was, ‘friendship is the start, but togetherness is the end.’

    I wish Himanshu Rai the very best in is his future titles.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****