Thursday, 9 June 2016

Ripples in the Pond by V. Kedar Rao - Book Review

Ripples in the Pond is a diverse collection of eleven short stories featuring various different periods from the colonial days of India till present written by V. Kedar Rao. Each story was different in its own right, ranging from certain standard stories about a snake charmer concerned about settling his daughter, certain rather philosophical stories on the importance of death in this world, the debate on vegetarianism vs being a non vegetarian and even to the extent of Sherlock Holmes coming to India.

What I liked about the book was the sheer simplicity of the stories in the book coupled with the impeccably lucid delivery of the same; and despite the simplicity, most of the stories ended with catchy lines, just to quote one from the story Sword is mightier than the Pen on the Maoist rebellion - 'This tussle between the bureaucratic Pen and policeman's sword still continues.' Moreover, notwithstanding the red herring in the introduction of the book about there being no twists, I do believe there are definitely certain twists for the reader to look forward to.

I found the diversity of the stories quite interesting and I'd talk about three stories that I loved; The Elixir of Life talking about a doctor who invents an elixir that prevents death without curing health conditions - elongates lives of everyone and leads to gross overpopulation leading to too many problems and the attempted solution turns even more disastrous (no more spoilers!) and then, the next story that I loved was What happened one summer in Manali which I understood to be quite autobiographical and I really liked the way the author brought out the judgemental nature of the fellow tourist even though the ending was open ended and the reader could construe the conclusion either in favour of the fellow tourist or the one whom they judged. Another story I genuinely loved was When Sherlock visited India and I really liked the idea of bringing the famous detective to India and the story also took place in colonial Bombay and it was an excellent feeling revisiting the old glories of the city I grew up in.

The only trivial concern I had was over an assertion in the story The Great Fire at Moore Market; while I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I found a remark about how many people who were not supposed to consume non-vegetarian food were having it at McDonald's and KFC whereas, considering that the story took place when Madras had Moore Market, it should've been definitely before 1985 when these two fast food chains weren't present in India. As innocuous as it might sound, I guess, reviewers are quite nitpicky.

To conclude, I would say that the book is a fantastic light read, an excellent companion during a short travel. On a side note, I understood from the introduction to the book that the author started writing when he was 79 years old which is remarkable, gives hope to aspiring writers like myself that there is still a lot of time to catch up. On the whole, I would give the book a rating of seven on ten, could be read by anyone, across age groups.

Rating - 7/10

Have a nice day,

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