This is a review of the debut book by Kochery C. Shibu titled Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar.
Here is the review of the book…
- Title – Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar
- Author – Kochery C. Shibu
- Pages – 284
- Publishers – Niyogi Books
- Format – eBook [Also available in print]
- Genre – Fiction
- Price – 63 /- eBook [Paperback-INR 330/]
A hydelpower 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 laborer 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 campsite 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. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people with their cares and worries woven into the site life. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in a quest to fulfill their dreams.
- Nanda – An engineer from Kerala who is an exponent in Kalari, a martial Art form and works in the commissioning of the Hydel power project.
- Khusru-A young Kashmiri youth who is abandoned by his parents and lives with his uncle till he is caught under a cross fire. He is then recruited by a ‘bearded man’ where Khusru follows all his instructions!
- Rekha – A doctor turned Katak dancer who ,through some twist of fate, joins the Hydel camp site and gets recruited as the Doctor in charge!
- And a whole bunch of side characters like Indumati,Mangu Ram and his son, Thekdars, Rekha’s grandmother, Nandhinikutty,Rajanish,Rafiq,Mukesh, a horde of workers in the khan group, the Lal Mahal team,some Russian / Chechen para gliders,PM,Ghoraji ,Sanjay Rathore- the investigating officer,etc,etc, who have various small parts in this book.
The trio – Nanda, Khusru,Rekha by twists and turns of fate land together at various points of the book at Dhauladhar’s Hydel power plant project site.
Right from the beginning we can see that Nanda is running away from something and he has some secretive past which is not told immediately.
Then comes Khusru who is acting on the instructions from a mysterious bearded man.He is made to live with the shepherd folk, then moves on to Pakistan to learn Urdu ,leads a terrorist group through some mountains and then comes back to Kashmir and lands in Dhauladhar.
Rekha who studies to become a Doctor sees the beauty of Katak and becomes an exponent in this art form, travelling the world and giving performances with other artists! Much to her grandmother’s disappointment, she puts off her wedding plans and is eager to meet the man she will love and worship! She is ‘kidnapped and saved’ by Khusru and she falls head over heels in love with him in spite of knowing he belongs to a terrorist outfit!
We do see people like these! Nanda, who wants to live in peace yet is a prisoner of circumstances and does not seek revenge while his friends and relatives want him to seek vengeance! Khusru,who ends up either marrying / sleeping with the girl he saved from various situations and Rekha , the well educated city girl who is hopelessly in love with a terrorist who is younger than her!!
At the end of each chapter the snow capped peaks of Dhauladhar seem to say something!
With so many other characters around, the story revolves about how these three main characters of the book meet and about the plot to blow up the dam and flood Delhi! Is it averted? What happens to the trio and the other characters? Is Rekha’s wish fulfilled? What is Nanda’s past and is he able to get back to his family? Well, all that and more will be for you to find out when you read the book!
What I liked about this book:
- The plot is a very different one.
- The main characters are well developed.
- The story line keeps going back and forth between the present and the past.The chapters looks disjointed at first and then everything comes together nicely.
- The characters history is not revealed in a stretch. We get good glimpses of it from the narrations of the past and then we are able to piece them all together.
- The book takes us through various parts of the world, through various time periods and we get to see how the people lived and reacted then!
- The author has used his experience in the various projects her worked with so the setting around the dam and the people’s behavior in the construction site and the work that goes into building a dam is described in a realistic manner.
- The feelings and circumstances of the people who work in the camp site, the work situation etc has been portrayed well.
- The language is simple.
What could have been better:
- Too many characters on the side and at times I had to go back and check who was being mentioned there!
- Also too much of technical details on building a dam and the various aspects that go around it.The parts about the dam construction and erection of various machines and stuff seemed to be too elaborate.
- The climax happens in the last few chapters and the book seemed have ended too quickly / abruptly!
- Too many words in regional languages – Hindi and Malayalam then some Punjabi, which could have been avoided.
- I am not sure if the ebook was proofread!There were plenty of spelling errors, which sort of put me off!
If you are a person who loves to go into details about the story and read everything in depth, then you can go ahead and read it. But if you are looking for a quick read and one with a thrilling climax, then you may not find this very interesting!
Kochery C. Shibu is a retired naval officer. A graduate from the National Defence Academy he has held several important posts in the Indian Navy. Post his retirement he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and lately Teesta river basin in Sikkim.
He holds a postgraduate degree in Defence Studies from Chennai University, and MA in English Literature from Pune University. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is his debut novel.
The technical content of the novel, namely the setting up of a hydro-project is drawn from his experience in these projects since 2005, as are many of the characters inspired from those whom he encountered at the project site.
Kochery C. Shibu was born in Kochi and now lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.
A huge thanks to Writer’s Melon and Niyogi Books for sending across this book for review.
Check out the 50+ books that I have reviewed so far in the Book Reviews page.