Advaita The Writer

The sonny and I grabbed yet another opportunity to meet another wonderful author, Ken Spillman, and got to sit through the book reading of ADVAITA The Writer.. It was a wonderful experience to watch Ken Spillman field the questions from inquisitive kids at the end of the book-reading session.

Ken shared a tip with the kids on how to remember his website and used a water bottle to demonstrate ‘Spill’ in his name and then of course ‘Man’ and said, the website was Ken-Spill-Man-dot-com🙂

The Event

The book reading event was again organized by Binita & Gargi of Spring & Zoom, a Centre for Literary Arts, Chennai.

The Book

Title: Advaita, The Writer
Author: Ken Spillman
Illustrator: Menon
Publisher: Tulika.
For Age 9+ (Does not count Valar though ;-))

The story


Advaita is apprehensive about what life at Dunham Girl’s School has in store for her.. The fear of wading through unknown territories, home-sickness, her initial experience at school and the loneliness result in her slow withdrawal. Fortunately for Advaita, her love for books helps her sail through the loneliness.. Books are her refuge and she lets her imagination grow wings, unmindful of the things around her.. Just when she begins to think that things aren’t going to get any better, she, to her delight, discovers that her favorite author Ruskin Bond lives close to her school, at Mussoorie! Does Advaita get to meet Ruskin Bond? What changes Advaita’s world from Grey to Green? Read the book and find out what inspires Advaita to become THE WRITER!

The illustrations by Menon are lucid and subtle at once and merge with the story without distracting the reader..

What this book meant for us

When I tried initiating Vyas into reading Ruskin Bond, he did not show as much interest as he did in reading R.K.Narayan, Sudha Murthy etc.. besides the endless Blytons, Dahls, Stiltons.. But things have changed much after his meeting Ken Spillman, something akin to Advaita’s tete-a-tete. Vyas is now reading Ruskin Bond and we both have sulked enough about not having met the author, Ruskin Bond, when we had been to Mussoorie just last May! We attribute it to our poor GK! Vyas, much like Advaita, cherished a vague notion about book authors like Ruskin Bond belonging to a different planet, not from our present, not contemporary 🙂 But then, we are pretty thrilled about having met another wonderful author, Ken Spillman!

Pics credit: Spring & Zoom

Twice Born – A quick review

“I became we at seven o’clock on the longest day of the year at the moment when the ancient wall clock bonged for the seventh time”

The protagonist introduces himself with the above statement. I like to guess what comes next in a story, be it in movies or books. Most Indian stuff are predictable. Going by the above line, I was pretty sure the protagonist was referring to his marriage. Further reading proved me wrong, but I was not disappointed. He goes on to say, “I saw myself and behind me I saw myself” and explains at length about seeing more of himself – an infinite progression like seeing his reflection in a room flanked by mirrors on all sides. That is when the realization dawns on him that he has become a schizophrenic. He is happy about this state and feels liberated and goes on to claim that he had ‘attained’ the secret ideal of many in the 21st century after Christ. Like being schizophrenic is a state of Nirvana!

Twice Born - by Vijaya Raghavan
Image Courtesy:

Twice Born, by Vijaya Raghavan, a journalist for over 2 decades, is the story of an English professor who divorces his love – his profession as a teacher- to marry a PRO career as a trade off to unite with his love. With just a little way into his marriage he realizes that he’d committed an unpardonable offense of yielding to lust. His personality suffers and his self-esteem is beyond economic repairs. A brief re-union with his son-turned-naxalite after years of separation from his wife, purges him of some bitterness. His becoming a schizophrenic is attributed to the torture meted out  to him by the police during the interrogation on his son’s whereabouts.

There are a couple of nice anecdotes narrated by two of the ‘splintered’ personalities of the protagonist; one is about a poor, honest, ordinary man suddenly becoming rich (a rich stranger listening to the man ramble on his state of poverty, knocks on his door and parts with some wealth and vapourizes) only to be locked up in prison for the un-explained wealth! Yet another is about a little boy with confused parents who on one hand encourage him to ask questions and take him to task when he actually asks them!

Though nice in parts, the book falls short of a seamless connect between the events, and the plot is a damp squib. You will find an occasional gem of a thought like this: The pun is the only form of humour that provokes groans, the opposite of laughter; paradox is the only truth. So the punster is the only true human wit. Why am I spending so much  of my energy and your time analyzing a lousy joke? Because comedy is too serious  a matter to be taken lightly!

Which is why I found this book worth a read!

2 States… by Chetan Bhagat – A quick review

Just finished reading the book and found myself in 2 states- smiling and not too disappointed! That said, his previous 2 books had taught me a good lesson on not to expect anything in the first place. Back then, i was again in 2, but different states- clenching my teeth, and disappointed. So, if you have not read the book yet, well you are not missing much. If you do plan to read, toe my lines, dont expect anything awesome.

It feels like walking out of a theatre after watching a usual Hindi or Tamil flick. A girl and a boy, obviously from different cultural backgrounds, rise and fall in love and the end is a mega ‘Shubham’. This is 2 States for you in a nutshell. And Chetan Bhagat has got his acts right when it comes to appealing to the young minds by liberally using a good mix of girls, booze, sex, sentiments ,a little academics and work life. The IIT, IIMA backgrounds add color to the book and the characters, while the places Ahmedabad-Chennai-Punjab serve as nice back-drop with deep contrasts- literally Red-Black-White in that order!


There can be no spoilers when reviewing this book, so let me go ahead and say it! Krish and Ananya are the two people brought together, as you know, by fate. The relationship predictably starts as a ‘friendship’ which the whole of India understands, and grows up into ‘deep-love’ and culminates in a ‘we-marry-a-family-in-india’ marriage that we are all so used to. Ananya and Krish do all it takes to win over each other’s family and Chetan spices up with all the cultural masala, and it does add some taste to the tale.

The upside is that every Romeo and Juliet in India can relate to the characters all so well and am sure there must be many parallels! Which is yet another reason why his books sell like crazy and so fast! 2 States.., like his earlier works, is a quick read and a notable positive is that you’ll not get bored. What I personally liked, (yes, i liked a few things) is the subtle humor, the all too familiar South vs North digs, the Indian obsession with ‘fair’ skin and food. I was caught laughing twice in less than 30 minutes on my bus ride home:-) Worth, since I borrowed it from my friend!

1. Good way to kill time.
2. Can be a good start for those with a ‘Reader’s Block’ (if there is such a thing)
3. You will like it if you’d once upon a time read Mills & Boons
4. Those aspiring for IIT/IIMA: You may feel pleased to know that life is colorful out there
5. If you are looking for some value, something to satiate your literaray appetite, then am sorry. This book is not for you.

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