07 May, 2019

#BookReview :: Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery C. Shibu

In a project site in the remote Himalayas where superstitions and religious beliefs are as important as the engineering Nanda, Khusru and Rekha come together through a series of twists and turns in their lives. The dreams and aspirations of people come alive as the story progresses. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realize. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Even Nanda who has seen death from close quarters and is hiding from the law is taken aback by the callous attitude towards life. He is the silent man of the project, the one who never talks. Intrigue and real life get mixed with the sudden appearance of Rekha, the lady doctor, at the camp site. Rekha’s quest for a man whom she can love and worship takes her on an unforeseen journey from where she has to choreograph her way out. The handsome Kashmiri youth Khusru is envied by all at the site. Little do they know that the ghosts of Khusru’s past are plotting to turn his world upside down. Nanda is torn between his love for his dear ones and his kalari code of revenge. He looks to the Dhauladhar ranges for answers to come to terms with his personal loss and a little more dignity for those who perish. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in their quest.




Set in the backdrop of Dhauladhar in Himachal Pradesh, the book revolves around three major characters – Nanda, Khusru and Rekha, whose paths cross at the site of a dam construction project. Nanda is an engineer at the project with a dark past that stops him from being with the people he loves. Khusru is a young chap with a shady personality that has many facets to it. Rekha is a doctor at the camp whose first love is dance. With a terrorist plot to attack the dam hanging over them, what role will each of these characters play?

What I liked the most about the book was the details (part of it was also a pitfall which I will come to later). The author has provided us with enough background information on all the major characters to make us feel that we truly know each of them. It was easy to feel connected to the characters. Khusru was a black jack for me in the book as I felt like he could go either ways. The descriptions of the beautiful setting of the book helped create an image in my mind about what a beautiful place Dhauladhar is.  Plus the author made the place come alive through the settlers of the nearby village, their cultures and their fallacies. The author brought certain aspects of our culture under the spotlight through the people, their beliefs, traditions and talents.

The part that was a fifty-fifty for me in the book was primarily the representation of women. Given the plot, there was not much that the author could do, yet failed to cultivate the little opportunity that he had. It was disappointing and so was the love story that lacked the chemistry and the feel.

Now for the parts that failed to impress me completely.  First of all, the book triggered my biggest reading quirk with over use of a regional language and slangs. It hampered my overall reading experience as they were sprinkled throughout and I had to put down the book multiple times because of it. They weren’t necessarily used as a tool to develop a character or build up the setting and could have easily been avoided.  The other thing that hampered my reading experience was the detailed descriptions of the dam building process. I am all for description when it comes to world building or character development, but in this case it was the technicalities of dam building that had me bored. The book could have easily been cut back down by a 50 odd pages that were just too much of useless information. 

Overall, it is a book that offers drama, action, politics and romance. Give it a try.


Review Copy received from the Author



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