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Book review


Red Lipstick: The Men In My Life is an autobiographical work by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a famous transgender activist. It is written from a first person perspective, essentially being a trajectory of her life, from her traumatic and confusing childhood to a stable and empowering adulthood.

The book is divided into sections, each focusing on certain people and aspects of Laxmi’s life. For example, there is a section called “Raju’s Monologue”, referring to Laxmi’s persona at home, her childhood name Raju. In stark contrast, there is “Prince Manvendra’s Monologue: Laxmi, My Sister”, which is written by the Prince himself, and is a description of his familial relationship with  Laxmi. The book also incorporates Hindu religion and mythology into it – there are sections called “The Creator”, “The Preserver”, and “The Destroyer”. These reflect not only Laxmi’s knowledge of ancient Indian texts, but also her understanding and recognition of their importance.

Laxmi describes herself as a hijra, a term that is loosely translated into the English “transgender”. She was born with a set of male sexual organs, called Raju, but has never felt entirely like a man. She spent her early years bridled with confusion and angst. She was raped by her cousins, ostracized at school, and lacked a sense of belonging. When she got wind of the fact that there were other people like her, she did all she could to establish a network with them, to form a community, to ensure their well-being. Thus she donned the persona of Laxmi, and became her. With bold lipstick and silk sarees, she embraced her femininity and her calling for social work, and dedicated her life to the betterment of sexual and gender minorities.

The book revolves around topics that the ordinary mainstream Indian is not entirely familiar, or even comfortable, with. Nevertheless, it resonates with the reader for the simple reason that it is honest and personal. Never at any point are we compelled to ‘like’ Laxmi. She can be aggressive, arrogant, and impulsive. She has manipulated people and exacted revenge on them. However, the very humane nature of these acts, and the simplicity and candour with which she states them, is remarkable. She is truly a character, dramatic and expressive. As she states towards the end of her book, despite her hardships she has tried to focus on her journey of empowerment. “I am a celebration, I feel, and that’s the narrative I choose for my story.”

Reading Red Lipstick allows us to catch a glimpse into the life of someone we have seen on TV several times, whether it be on Satyamev Jayate or Sach Ka Saamna. It allows us to comprehend her journey from a lost child to a UN representative, and brings us face to face with the harsh and cruel realities of India when it comes to minorities and their hardships. The book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand the LGBTQ scene in India, and how to play their part in improving the state of affairs.

Image Caption: Red Lipstick by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
Image Credits: cake.youthkiawaaz.com


Vineeta Rana

[email protected]

A Feast of Vultures to underscore this fact. The book A Feast of Vultures highlights the hidden business of democracy in India. Written by Josy Joseph, an award winning journalist the book brings to light the sad state of affairs spread across the democratic institutions in India. The book begins in one of the small hamlets of Bihar called Hridaychak. The story of Hridaychak displays how the government institutions work at top to build an ideal village which ironically damages the villages of India. The book further talks about the middlemen in Indian politics who deal with winning deals for their clients and reveals some starring examples of how corruption actually takes place in the high gardens of Delhi’s power corridors. It digs up past defense scams, black money cases and shady deals which peek into the dark secrets of the powerful. The book also discusses about power that the typists of top politicians yield and their indispensable role in driving deals for their masters. It also highlights how large corporations indulge in corruption, bribing and sometimes murders to rise in business and power. The book tells that you can get anything done if you can pay the right amount to the right people and later goes forward to argue for the same through all its chapters. How industrialists advertise themselves as biggest patriots while poisoning the drinking water streams of villages and spreading diseases in the areas they set up their factories, how people with deep interests in business use the parliament for their own benefit, how the most wanted terrorists and underworld dons control major business through their contacts and push their people into the parliament, how in the name of welfare schemes the government even strips the dead their rights to rest in peace. The book tries to provide all these answers and ends with a hope of a better tomorrow. The book is a must read for any student who wants to know what is wrong with our country. Feature Image Credits- thequint.com Srivedant Kar [email protected]]]>

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. -Plutarch Words alone cannot express the impact of poetry in our lives. Precisely with that thought in perspective, we got in touch with Harnidh Kaur, the author of the trending book, ‘The Inability of Words’. Packed with hard-hitting insights through thoughtful expressions, Harnidh’s take on life through poetry is reflected through the book. The Inability of Words is one of those books that you would keep next to you to read and re-read, again and again. Every poem in its simplicity is relatable, hard-hitting yet truly honest. The pieces have the ability to draw the reader into the world of the poet’s perspective, where it is clear to see that each poem has a long story behind it. The book follows a unique approach – right from the cover of the book to the content of the poems itself. As you go through the poems, you can see the growth of the poet through her journey, forcing you think about your own perspectives. Each line of the book reflects the author’s personality, wit, observations and emotions. It is definitely an inspiring and motivational for all poetry fans. To know more, Harnidh further tells us about her journey and first book.

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Well. I’m a Bombay-Delhi girl. I live (and love) between the cities. I’m currently pursuing my masters in public policy from St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, and balancing a writing, and policy career side by side. If anyone asks me what I want to do, I say I’m an UPSC aspirant (which I am!), but secretly, I want to be Nigella Lawson.

2. What was the inspiration behind writing this book?

I was in a state of transition in my last year of college. Between shifting cities, entering a new phase of life, and grappling with new paradigms, I found myself writing, furiously so. However, for however much I wrote, the correct expression never quite came together until I actually collated that work into a book. Hence, names it ‘The Inability of Words.’ [caption id="attachment_43947" align="aligncenter" width="512"]Harnidh Kaur Harnidh Kaur[/caption]

3. What was your journey like?

Hectic! Eight drafts, and so many editorials back and forth, fights over which poems to include, grammatical disagreements. All smack dab in the middle of starting a new college, and adjusting into a new city. It’s all worth it, though…all of it.

4. We’ve heard your book has been gaining quick growth. Could you tell us some interesting facts about the same?

Well, it sells out really fast. I ascribe it to the fact that I’m a fairly approachable writer. People can talk to me. And well, I hope it’s because my book isn’t too bad, haha.

5. What’s your typical daily routine?

Currently, I go to office at 8:30 am to 4 pm, then college from 5 pm to 8 pm. But usually, I’m up by 8; I study, read, get college work done, and attend class. I don’t have a specific writing time because I’m always writing. There’s no process. I literally wrote my entire book on my phone. That’s what writing is about for me – an unbridled explosion of observations and thoughts.

6. What advice would you give to your readers?

Firstly, buy poetry. Keep buying it. It’s your contribution to keep a dying art alive. Secondly, fit poems into your context. Don’t try to fathom mine. This book is for you, I promise.]]>

Rightfully Wrong, Wrongfully Right, written by Varsha Dixit is the final installment of the love trilogy, ‘Right and Wrong’. The trilogy’s first two parts, ‘Right Fit, Wrong Shoe’ and ‘Wrong Means, Right End’ were published in 2009 and 2012 . The first book of the series traces the journey of Nandini Sharma, an urban yet simple girl living in Kanpur. The second book was a story of young single mother Sneha Verma, who beats all odds to find her unique saga. Both these character appear in the third installment too. The third book traces the journey of a NRI girl, Gayatri Dutta, who settles in India and goes on to realise her worth. The book starts with introducing Viraj, a man who made millions selling his design of a very unique toy to a company and is known as the mad scientist. It shifts to Gayatri, a spoilt diva, who hasn’t been too successful in her career endeavors and has a rich dad wanting her to get married soon. ‘Rightfully Wrong, Wrongfully Right’ is thus, a story of two absolutely different individuals who come together in the oddest circumstances. Viraj is the catalyst to an end for Gayatri and she is everything that Viraj despises in a person. The two start off on a wrong foot but as the story moves on, we can see the two getting used to each others’ ways and company. My favourite part of the book is how Gayatri and Viraj both have unresolved issues with their fathers and, as the story proceeds, the two not only get over their prejudices of each other but also work to resolve these unresolved issues which stemmed from the relationships with their fathers. I would happily rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. Image Credits: www.varshadixit.com Akshara Srivastava [email protected]]]>

Akhilesh Panigrahi has very perspicaciously brought to life multiple characters with multiple stories through his compilation. Instead of focusing and draining out a few characters and stretching them into a book, he wanted to make his debut indisputable. These little shots of intensity, fire, love and lust definitely has an appeal to draw but also not drag the reader into a dark space. His book has intoxicated the media and got everyone talking about him.

This book is a great volume of Indian attraction and a myriad of feelings that will immerse you until you have been made to dive into a whole new ocean with the next story. The short stories are gulps of romance and longing, homosexuality, an ecological heart to heart and whether you believe it or not, there’s also a short dose of the tribal community in India.

The poetry is simple with emotions that we’ve all once felt and therefore, there is no scope for any double entendres that normally keep you spinning while reading poetry. You don’t have to keep scavenging for that deeper meaning; it comes to you automatically.

There’s a poem called “stupid sassy sweetheart” where the poet depicts an unmoved devotion towards a woman who might not even love him back but he reminds us that love goes beyond that.

Here’s a small part of that poem, “For my love for her is an unconditional knot; All I wish is to always see her wearing the mortal smile, Coz with her it’s really momentary and fragile, I swear loving her always the same, Even if she breaks my trust to shame, I’ll breathe my last blissfully chanting her name.”

The Green Guy is a very intriguing story of a man’s destiny being determined by the industrial pollutants. The Dilkashi Damsels is a material story of the complexities of two sisters, where one of them was god gifted with sound features and the other was born deaf and dumb, and their struggle as they set out to achieve the same goal. There are various other stories where love amalgamates in different forms. It’s always a comforting feeling to read about the chase, and that’s what the writer has kept in mind.

The book is the kind you could finish in a day, but also the kind you could let linger around on your tongue and reopen from time to time. It’s definitely recommended!

Baani Kashyap

[email protected]


Arjun Dutt’s The Last Seen Romantic is a tale of the virtual world, love and distance combining as a recipe for almost – disaster for its protagonist. Exploring being overwhelmed by social media and being caught in the throes of loneliness despite being connected to people on the interweb, the book certainly deals with themes that are very relevant today.

The book begins with a bang as the reader is swept right away in the flow of things without any dawdling. Aryan, a young professional, is enamoured by Tanvi Kapoor after meeting her at the office elevator one Monday morning. The woman in question is portrayed as captivating and having a strong presence about her. This catches Aryan’s eye and makes him fall in love with her despite barely knowing her. To Aryan’s dismay, he discovers that Tanvi is relocating to UK for a year-long project. Despite the odds being stacked against him and his best friend cautioning him about his unrealistic passions, Aryan decides to pursue Tanvi. So begins the tale of constant untimely Friendsview (read: Facebook) messaging, brooding about calls that never come and Aryan’s entire life centering around the ‘Tigress’ that is Tanvi Kapoor and his unnaturally strong feeling towards her. With social media and long-distance phone calls the only way to communicate, will Aryan win over Tanvi? Or will he lose her to the omnipresent men in her life, specifically her roommate and colleague Raghav? Most importantly, will Aryan’s everyday life be able to bear the brunt of him being caught up in the virtual world? These are some of the questions the book deals with as major plot points.

Readers might find Aryan’s lofty and unrealistic ideas of love slightly off-putting, especially since it is written from Aryan’s perspective. Believing in love at first sight, forming his attachments too early and claiming to be ‘the last seen romantic’, his views are somewhat balanced by his best friend, Vikram Nath, who comes across as more sensible. Other characters in the Aryan-Tanvi mix are Aryan’s colleagues and Tanvi’s many male admirers, the latter causing Aryan much chagrin and forming a major plotline in the book. A reader would get worried about the harsh, and frankly unfair, possessiveness that Aryan shows towards Tanvi and his harmful observation, almost stalking, of her every move but this only proves the point of the kind of paranoia some modern relationships come along with. The ending, a tad abrupt, is also quite unexpected.

About the author: An alumnus of Delhi College of Engineering, Arjun Dutt works at a start-up company in the world of technology and finance. The Last Seen Romantic is his first book.

Feature Image: Cover of The Last Romantic Shubham Kaushik [email protected]]]>

About the Author Rosheena Zehra studied English literature at Miranda House, University of Delhi and Jamia Milia Islamia, respectively. Writing from the age of eleven she had her first story published in 2009 followed by another publication of a prize winning short story, Moon in 2004. The author can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/rosheenazehra www.twitter.com/rosheenazehra www.rosheenazehra.wordpress.com   Image Credits: quint.com Srivedant Kar [email protected]]]>

The concept of Doctor Faustus is something that has been used by writers/artists/musicians/filmmakers throughout the world. One man set out to change the world by killing people with criminal records, is something that all of us have probably come across. On the lines of Deathnote,  Yama by Kevin Missal follows the same story, in the bustling and ever fast-paced Delhi.

The story talks about a man who dresses up in the form of Yama- or one of the Yamduts working under Yamraj- the God of death. Every killing that he makes is peculiar in its own way, exactly like Igor’s killings in The Winner Stands Alone.

The novel is told in the first person by Iravan, an ex Black Cat Commando, who investigates the entire issue from the start. The revelation of the man who was disguised as Yama in the end isn’t surprising and can easily be assumed. But the thrill and the constant clues, conversations, digressions keeps a reader sticking to the story which makes this book a page turner.

The author Kevin Missal is a student of St. Stephen’s College and released this book recently. Though the ideas in the book seem to be taken from a lot of other, different books, the story is compelling and not something you come across written by an Indian author.

Image Credits: Google Images