“Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar” Book Review
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Number of Pages: 283
Genre: Fiction, Culture
A hydro power project in the remote Himalayas.
Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge.
Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labour at the site.
Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru.
A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the camp site like moths to a flame. Some escape untouched,successful; some miss a step and perish.
Each has a story to tell and a dream to realize. The fury of nature and hardship of project life has no mercy for the weak and time for the dead.
Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk their limb and life in their quest to full fill their dreams..
The first thing that caught my attention was the title of the book followed by the simple yet aesthetic cover. As I started reading, I could visualize each scene perfectly. The amount of description was just perfect to bring in a strong connect from any Indian reader.
The strength of the story lies in the characters and the truthfulness. It was shocking to read parts of it but the rawness did work. One thing I had to mention was the sheer amount of research the author must have had to do to write this kind of a story.. such vastness of character and diversity of location. Amazing!
The background story of every character was told in details. This helped the story build up very well. Their present actions were influenced by their pasts and as reader I could sympathize or even understand why they were doing certain things. The tone of the book is very objective, totally impartial and thus leaves it up to the readers how they perceive the characters.
I really enjoyed the panoramic scenic descriptions. The use of the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas as a background where the story of so many people culminates was commendable. I could almost feel the Dhauladhar range as a character in the story, a silent observer who witnesses it all.. love, exploitation, life, death, longing for the past, anticipation for the future and the utter disregard for the present.
Some technical descriptions from the project site may appear too much for readers but I actually enjoyed those parts as well. I did have a few other concerns though. The pace of the story became too fast towards the end. A lot had to happen and it did.. too fast.. so fast that it felt like a haphazard mess as if the author was in a hurry to wind things up. Also, the story doesn’t follow chronology and so it became very difficult to keep track of all events in order, given that there were so many diverse characters. I had to read the last few chapters really carefully in order to not mess up.
All in all “Men and Dreams In the Dhauladhar” by Kochery C. Shibu was a pleasant experience.
Recommended if you are looking for something different to read from the regular contemporaries or thrillers.. The humane element combines the two to make it one of it’s kind.
~~I was sent a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. All views expressed here are completely my own~~