02 June 2016

Neti Neti - A book review


Book: Neti Neti
Author: Anjum Hasan
Rating: 2.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⚡️
In Hinduism, and in particular Jnana Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, neti neti is a Sanskrit expression which means "not this, not this", or "neither this, nor that". 

Neti neti as in Not this Not this 
are words of an everlasting puzzle. There comes a phase in life where you start wondering as to what do you want. You jump from one thing to another not able to find that something we keep searching for! 

Neti Neti is based in two cities - stark contrast between - Shillong and Bangalore. Anyone and anywhere who ever has moved from a small town to a big town has suffered from nostalgia, and when you had gone back you have real used it wasn't that great. Time heals everything. Sepia shades of memory add sweet nostalgia to life. Past Things seem better in the future. Don't fall into the trap, move on. Create more memories! The answer to when will this end is - it will end at the last page -but that's not true it goes on and on and you have nothing else but to make peace with what you have and not keep rejecting everything. The reality is 'this is it'. 

Although the best thing about the book is the love of books. The books and characters we have all heard of. We may not have read but these books are so part of classics even from a vernacular Indian point of view. I wonder what are the kind of books that become classics. 

The three books which are most talked about are protagonists favorite books. The books she keeps as a reference book for life - 
Swami and friends
Swami Vivekananda
Madame Bovary

What an interesting mix, with no relation or similarity. There are further reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Protagonists fathers reference book. For him there is always a quote from Hamlet which is apt for every situation in your life. There is a mention of Little Women and Jane Eyre. For me all these mentions and references were beautiful. 

The God of Rock Bob Dylan has been discussed umpteen times. But if you write a book on youth in the hills of India, you can't do that without mentioning Bob Dylan and the crazy craze of Rock. 

In short, Neti Neti wanders about the hills and the big cities just like we do wandering around for the search of that ever alluding happiness. Anjum Hasan is a wonderful writer and does justice to a very simple, dry, urban story with her strong writing. But the length and breadth of the book with its not so strong story line may not be everyone's cup of tea. The initial built up especially takes too long and there were moments where I almost said Not this - Neti Neti! 

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